In the build up to England’s meeting with Montenegro Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has been bending the collective ear of the media on the subject of the international prospects of his former Leeds midfielder Fabian Delph.
Having performed with great credit against four members of last season’s top seven, Villa are 13/10 for a top-10 finish in the Premier League and the club’s player of the month for August has been a key factor in their solid start.
Delph has executed more tackles (28) than any other English midfielder in the Premier League this season.
That’s a whole dispossession-per-game more than national team regular Tom Cleverley and twice as many as Roy Hodgson’s deep-lying incumbent Michael Carrick.
England squads have long had a place for a tackler in the middle of the park, with Scott Parker the most recent in a long line that stretches back through Owen Hargreaves, David Batty and Paul Ince.
The time-honoured role is unfulfilled within the current England setup and even if it’s not utilised in every second of every game Delph’s relish for a challenge could be a vital tactical weapon for England in tight fixtures.
His Villa midfield have taken six points from face-offs with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man City.
The Yorkshireman has been involved in a Villans engine room that have refused to be overwhelmed when faced with the crème da la crème of Premier League central bands this term.
He had the most touches of any claret and blue player against Chelsea and City (and the third most in the other two matches) which indicates he is a willing and trusted outlet for the ball who won’t shrink from responsibility in the tough games.
The return of Mathieu Flamini reaffirms the relevance of an energetic spoiler in midfield.
Arsenal’s impressive form in the early portion of the season owes plenty to the Frenchman’s high-energy presence in front of the back four.
Delph’s energy and commitment could be harnessed to provide a similar service for his nation either in deep midfield or within the orbit of the centre-circle.