Defoe v Rashford & Wilshere v Noble: Is Hodgson's England Euro 2016 squad right?

By Saj Chowdhury and Sam ChaddertonBBC Sport
Euro 2016: Marcus Rashford, a breakthrough star in 15/16

Marcus Rashford instead of Jermain Defoe; Andros Townsend ahead of Theo Walcott; Jack Wilshere in, but no Mark Noble.

So did Roy Hodgson get his provisional England Euro 2016 squad right?

Opta statistics suggest an England squad based on data alone would have Watford's Troy Deeney right in contention, with Bournemouth's Steve Cook and Simon Francis competing to partner Manchester United's Chris Smalling in the heart of defence.

BBC Sport takes a look at the statistics around key England selection decisions.


Joe Hart, Tom Heaton, Fraser Forster

Probably the easiest decision for Hodgson, even with the absence of the Premier League's top English shot-stopper -Stoke's Jack Butland (103 saves) - through injury.

Fraser Forster (95.3) and Joe Hart (86.4) are the top two English goalkeepers for minutes played per goal conceded.

Burnley's Championship-winning keeper Tom Heaton played every minute for his club this season, keeping 20 clean sheets, and takes the third slot.

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Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose.

Everton's John Stones and Manchester United's Chris Smalling have had very busy seasons. While Smalling, 26, has emerged from United's below-par season with his reputation enhanced, Stones, 21, has faced criticism for Everton's disappointing campaign.

Smalling is an obvious choice, topping the charts for clean sheets (17) and interceptions (98), but by using other key defensive measurements of aerial challenges won, tackles made and clearances, Bournemouth defensive duo Simon Francis and Steve Cook do very well.

Steve Cook & SImon Francis
Steve Cook won the most aerial challenges (122) and made most clearances (295), while team-mate Simon Francis made the most tackles (98), the fifth-most interceptions (85) and the second-most clearances (205) in the Premier League, for English defenders

Although Stones does not register in the top 10 of any of the defensive metrics bar clean sheets (eight), his Premier League 2015-16 distribution statistics are the best of any other defender in the England squad.

The 21-year-old has made the most passes (1,569), with the most passes per 90 minutes (50.81) and has the best passing completion figure (89%), while conceding the fewest fouls (11).

Gary Lineker
Lineker reached the World Cup semi-finals with England in 1990

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker urged peopleexternal-link to "stop knocking" Stones, adding: "He's got it all and will be a top England player."

But former England striker and MOTD pundit Alan Shearer described the defence as the "Achilles heel" and a problem which Hodgson has not "been able to solve".

West Ham's Aaron Creswell had a strong season for the hammers but remains uncapped by England
West Ham's Aaron Creswell had a strong season for the Hammers but remains uncapped by England

The midfield

Dele Alli, Ross Barkley, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Danny Drinkwater, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere.

Once the England squad was announced at 11:00 BST, the most popular tweeted midfielder was 'Wilshere' (shown in blue) - 'Townsend', 'Noble' and 'Sterling' followed in that order

One name who sparked a lot of debate was Jack Wilshere.

The Arsenal central midfielder, 24, has been out with injury for most of the season and only made three appearances towards the end of the campaign.

A player who might feel aggrieved at missing out is West Ham's Mark Noble. Unlike Wilshere, who has 28 caps, the 29-year-old is uncapped, but helped the Hammers finish seventh.

He is fourth on the list of this season's English Premier League scorers, with seven goals, and ranked fourth on the shot conversion list.

Noble is also fourth on the successful passes order of merit, with Eric Dier the only England midfielder ahead of him, with an 86.2% passing accuracy.

Another left behind is Arsenal's Walcott. He plays as a forward for his club, but would likely have been picked as one of Hodgson's attacking midfielders had he made the cut.

The England coach cited the fact injury has curtailed his season, but the chart below shows the 27-year-old has played more minutes than three others who made the midfield list.

Hodgson: "Theo has not got regular games over the last few months"
Walcott1,374 minutes
Townsend1,153 minutes
Delph753 minutes
Wilshere141 minutes

Dele Alli's 10 goals, nine assists and 55 chances created for Tottenham mark him out as England's standout player.

James Milner's statistics for Liverpool this season are also impressive. He leads the assists with 11, which were included in the 61 chances he created - second only to Leicester's Marc Albrighton, who misses out.

The strikers

Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford.

The one hot topic regarding the striking department was the inclusion of Manchester United's Marcus Rashford. The 18-year-old only made his senior debut for United on 25 February, but has since scored seven goals from 16 games in all competitions.

His rapid rise to prominence is underlined by his fledgling Premier League statistics - his seven shots on target and one off target, resulting in four goals, are not enough to make the Opta lists.

Shearer told BBC Sport that Rashford "deserves" his call-up as he is "full of energy, scores goals and he looks a bright prospect", with Hodgson right to "look towards youth".

The uncapped teenager, who has not even played at under-21 level, was a popular subject on social media once the squad was announced at 11:00 BST.

The graph shows 'Rashford' generated 5,500-plus tweets between 11:00 BST and 12:30, and 'Defoe' generated 1,500-plus tweets

Defoe's exclusion was also discussed widely. The 33-year-old Sunderland striker was touted for a spot, and had a good case.

His 15 league goals helped Sunderland to safety and meant he was behind only Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the English scoring charts.

He was also ranked fourth on total shots (59), shooting accuracy (66.1%) and shot conversion rate (25.42%).

One player barely mentioned in the argument is Watford striker Troy Deeney. The 27-year-old was the only other Englishman to manage more than 10 league goals (13).

He also made more assists (seven) and created more chances (55) than any other English forward. But it was not quite enough to convince Hodgson.


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