When the England squad was announced on Sunday via Twitter for the Three Lions’ upcoming fixtures against Scotland and Spain, a host of frustrated names were omitted.
The likes of Jermain Defoe, Wilfried Zaha and Adam Forshaw to name a few, were all mentioned as players deserving of a call-up, especially compared to some of those selected by interim manager Gareth Southgate.
However, the decision to omit three other players in particular, continues to come under scrutiny – and rightly so.
After a lacklustre start to life at Southampton, Austin is now finally starting to replicate the form he displayed at QPR in the 2014-15 Premier League season.
So far this campaign across all competitions, the 27-year-old has registered more goals (eight) than any other England forward, making his exclusion from the England squad a surprise to most.
“Does Austin have the pace of Vardy or the technical finesse of Sturridge? Probably not, but in his current form he is arguably a more viable option than the pair”
The Southampton striker is outperforming both Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge, who have been called up as attacking options despite the different problems they are currently facing at their respective clubs, and Southgate’s failure to recognise such is a concern going forward.
Too often in the past with England, it has felt like that the inclusion of certain players has been based on club and reputation rather than form and, judging by this showing, things are unlikely to change should Southgate become Roy Hodgson’s permanent successor.
Does Austin have the pace of Vardy or the technical finesse of Sturridge? Probably not, but in his current form he is arguably a more viable option than the pair.
Austin’s Southampton team-mate Redmond has also started the season in good fashion and can count himself unlucky to have been denied the opportunity to make the jump from the England Under-21s to the senior squad.
The 22-year-old is relishing the forward role Saints boss Claude Puel has been deploying him in, chalking up three Premier League goals in the process of forming a promising partnership with Austin.
Redmond’s £11m transfer from Norwich City in the summer is already being touted as one of the signings of the season and given his performances to date, it is a view that is not hard to fathom.
Like Austin’s predicament, it is difficult to understand why Redmond has not been called up bearing in mind some of Southgate’s other inclusions.
Despite operating as a striker since his transfer, Redmond is naturally a winger blessed with pace and great dribbling ability.
While Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott are likely to occupy the wide positions for England’s game against Scotland on Friday, Redmond would have been a solid option for Southgate to have and a much better alternative to Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard and Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend — who have both done nothing to warrant a call-up.
Redmond is far from the finished article. But Puel is crafting him into a fine and more consistent player, who without a doubt deserved to be included in England’s latest squad.
After a long absence from the Premier League, Middlesbrough can be pleased with how things have gone since their return to the top flight.
They sit 15th in the table and Aitor Karanka’s men have put in some good defensive performances of late to add to the five out of nine points they have collected in their most recent fixtures against Arsenal, Bournemouth and Manchester City.
Central defender Gibson in particular has been singled out for praise, especially for his performance away at the Emirates in which he helped inspire his side to a point and clean sheet against an Arsenal team boasting the attacking talents of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and an in-form Walcott.
With that in mind, in addition to the current options England have at the back, Gibson’s omission from Southgate’s squad has raised eyebrows.
Chris Smalling is out injured, Gary Cahill has been shambolic when not playing in a back three (something England will not implement) and John Stones always looks like he has a costly mistake in him.
Then there is of course Phil Jagielka, likely to still be recovering physically and mentally from the battering he got from Diego Costa last Saturday in Everton’s 5-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Gibson should feel hard done by, he has done more than enough to earn the chance to win his first international senior cap.
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