Ricky Lambert’s ‘shock’ call-up to the England squad yesterday offered recognition for his having fought back from rejection by Liverpool aged 15, through non-league and the lower divisions of the football league, to the top level. At 31, Lambert’s achievement also offers hope to other English players performing with aplomb in the Premier League for whom international recognition has yet to arrive.
Here are five more Englishmen who – in light of Lambert’s call-up – must feel that their own time is near.
Nathan Dyer – 25 years old – Swansea City
A product of Southampton’s prolific academy, Dyer failed to make a dent on the first team under successive managers, and was eventually loaned out to Swansea, missing out on the return to the Saints’ glory days that began under Alan Pardew.
He’s since climbed through the divisions with the Swans; with last term his most impressive yet. An unpredictable presence with the ball at his feet, he’s perfectly at home in his side’s free-flowing attacking interchange and can score goals.
Mark Noble – 26 years old – West Ham United
2011/12 Hammer of the Year Noble seems to have been up-and-coming for years and he’s represented his nation at every level up until under-21.
As well as being an unrepentant tackler, he’s a creative passer from deep who can take a mean set piece – a Gareth Barry replacement in waiting. N.B. Roy Hodgson, he hasn’t missed a penalty for West Ham since 2008/09.
Callum McManaman – 22 years old – Wigan Athletic
The Huyton-native’s unplayable performance in his side’s FA Cup final win would have come as no surprise to those who had watched the zeal with which he’d set about attempting save the Latics from relegation on the flanks during the preceding spring fixtures.
That such a spell came on the back of being vilified for a ‘horror-tackle’ on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara showed he has enviable reserves of mental fortitude too.
Adam Lallana – 25-years old – Southampton
The Southampton skipper has been called up to train with the squad on one previous occasion, but was given not a sniff of game time.
His exploits in the heart of the Saints’ midfield last term earned him a new five-year contract, which suggests that he will feature centrally for a club clearly going in the right direction if the signing of Victor Wanyama is anything to go by.
Leon Britton – 30 years old – Swansea City
One of two players from his side on our list – with Wayne Routledge narrowly missing out on making it three – Swansea must be credited for their eye for a quality player who had previously been overlooked. The Swans are 12/1 to win the Premier League divisional handicap with a +37 point start.
Season upon season Britton remains among Europe’s best when it comes to pass completion, as he builds play from in front of the Swansea defence. With holding onto possession at key points in big matches a depressingly long-running England failing, he could be a genuinely useful player in tournament football for his country.