The most relieved man to see Fabio Capello leave his England post in February was Micah Richards – the Manchester City full-back who was inexplicably given the cold shoulder during the Italian’s reign.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson as his successor was set to herald a new dawn and following the arrival of Gary Neville as coach Richards would have been hoping to start a fresh with the Three Lions.
Still only 23 and hot off the heels of his maiden Premier League title, Richards should have been a certainty for Euro 2012, particularly given Kyle Walker’s absence through injury.
But Hodgson has ignored Richard’s form, talent and hunger, and opted to go for reputation with his choice of right-back in Glen Johnson – the man who has helped Liverpool to their lowest-ever Premier League finish.
It’s absolutely absurd Hodgson has left Richards out of his England squad for Euro 2012, especially with Walker injured, but Phil Jones is more than capable of filling the right-back slot.
The Manchester United youngster has probably had his best performances this season in that position – after some shaky displays at centre-back and a few hit-and-miss adventures in the middle of the park, Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to settle on pushing him out to the right of his backline.
The move worked for Jones, protecting the side from any costly errors he might make – while also allowing Jones’ attacking instincts to flourish.
Jones’ barnstorming runs forward saw him compared to club legend Duncan Edwards by some, and there is possibly no higher praise for a United player to receive.
While he is a long way off Edwards, Jones certainly shares his ability to burst past players at will and England would be wise to harness that.
Richards is similarly bulldozer-like when he starts motoring down the right, and arguably has a better end-product as well as having a knack of winning penalties with his pace after cutting into the box.
Hodgson obviously believes Jones has a better positional sense defensively than his Manchester City counterpart, which is the only reason possible for Richards’ exclusion.
Come Euro 2016, Jones will form England’s centre-back pairing with fellow United man Chris Smalling, but for now while he learns his game it’s no bad thing to blood him at right-back.
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