As the excitement builds towards Euro 2016 Chris Coleman will soon be deciding which 23 players will be travelling across the English channel for our first major tournament in 58 years. Of course there are some players who can relax safe in the knowledge that they will be amongst the travelling party but for others there will be one or two sleepless nights as they ponder if they’ve done enough to be part of the squad. Here are my thoughts on who should be on the plane to France in early June.
This is probably the easiest decision for our Swansea born manager. Wayne Hennessey is the undisputed number one and looks very likely to be assisted by Owain Fon WIlliams of Inverness and Danny Ward who is currently on loan at Aberdeen for Liverpool. Boaz Myhill’s retirement looks ridiculous now as he would definitely be on the plane if he’d made himself available. There aren’t any other alternatives although young Manchester City goalkeeper Billy O’Brien is one who will knock on the door in the near future.
At right back Chris Gunter picks himself and is a veteran of the squad with well over 60 caps. The battle to be his backup is between Jazz Richards and Adam Matthews but it’s got to be Jazz for me. He did a great job when called upon at home to Belgium and in Cyprus whilst Matthews is unfortunately very prone to injury. At left back there’s no doubt Neil Taylor and Ben Davies will be selected there. The latter may also play in back three if necessary although I’d prefer to see him at full back as he’s offers more going forward than Taylor. In the middle of defence the three certainties are skipper Ashley Williams, James Chester and James Collins. That leaves room for one more and Paul Dummett of Newcastle who can play centre half and left back as the most likely choice. I thought Regan Poole may have been in the manager’s thoughts but the fact he didn’t get a call up for the March friendlies suggests it’s too soon for him.
Let’s starts with the certainties – Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Joe Ledley all had brilliant campaigns in qualifying and look certain to start against Slovakia in Bordeaux(providing the latter is fit of course). I would take three other players in this position which means having to disappoint four players from Jonny Williams, Andrew Crofts Andy King, David Vaughan, Dave Edwards Shaun MacDonald and Emyr Huws. There’s no way I would leave Jonny Williams out, he’s someone who could change the game from the bench for us. I think the other two who would get the nod would be King and Huws. The former has been around the squad for years and always performed adequately whereas Huws is a player will be challenging Ledley is the near future.
Because we tend to play five at the back it make no sense to take more than three wide men to France. Gareth Bale obviously takes one of those places which leaves two others fighting it out. David Cotterill would be a good option on the right if we play 4-3-3 so he has earned a place in the squad and the other place goes to George Williams who looks most likely to make a cameo from the bench should we need to shake things up. Tom Lawrence is unlucky to miss out but his poor display against Northern Ireland means I’d keep him at home.
This is the weakest part of the side without doubt. What Coleman would give to have a Rush, Saunders, Hughes, Hartson, Bellamy etc. As it is the cult hero Hal Robson-Kanu is first choice and what he lacks in ability he makes up for with his tireless work chasing down lost causes for his team-mates. Sam Vokes has been in good form at Burnley and will also be amongst the squad which leaves one other option. I’m quite torn with this one but Tom Bradshaw gets the nod over Simon Church due to the latter’s awful goal scoring record in general. Our third choice striker is very unlikely to play anyway so I’d rather give it someone who could use it as a springboard for the future instead a of a player who has consistently failed to deliver.
So just to re-cap here are my 23 players of to France this summer
Hennessey, Fon Williams, Ward
Gunter, Richards, Davies, Taylor, Williams, Collins, Chester, Dummett
Ramsey, Allen, Ledley, King, Huws, J Williams
Bale, Cotterill, G Williams
Robson-Kanu, Vokes, Bradshaw