Roy Hodgson's loyalty to players is hurting England, says Paul Merson

Paul Merson has plenty of questions ahead of England's European Qualifier against Lithuania, including why Ashley Young is not in the squad, why Andros Townsend is, and whether Michael Carrick should still be included...

Starting with a positive note, I really hope Harry Kane plays at Wembley. I don’t want him not to play in this and make his debut away against Italy, that is a big ask for a youngster.

It could knock him back if England play one up front and he gets isolated, it is not a good debut.

I have been very impressed with him this season, he has been absolutely different class. It’s no fluke either, he is the top goalscorer in the Premier League, it is not like he has come in and got a couple of goals here and there, he has done it every week. He is a very good footballer.

I like Michael Carrick as well, he is a good player and very important for United, but he is 33, so he shouldn’t be that important for England, let’s be honest.

Carrick is 33 and England are relying on him, where are we going? We have to draw a line along the way and say we have to start again, we can’t keep doing this.
Paul Merson

That’s not disrespectful, but I’m thinking if he is 33 and England are relying on him, where are we going? This is what worries me, when are we going to start playing the youngsters, get them all together as a group and do what Spain and Germany have done. It’s proven, they have done it, so why can’t we?

I don’t know where we are going. We have to draw a line along the way and say we have to start again, we can’t keep doing this. People say we have no holding midfield players, well how do we know?

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I also don’t understand how Ashley Young is not in the squad. He has nigh on carried United this season, he has been outstanding. He went through a bad time and he was struggling, but he isn’t now. So surely he gets a chance?

Euro 2016 Qualifiers

I don’t get it. This is the problem I have with England. You don’t even have to really play for your club any more to play for England. When I played, if you weren’t playing for your club you had no chance of playing for your country, absolutely no chance.

If Andros Townsend can get in then it opens it up for anybody. We are not picking players who are playing well for their clubs – he got taken off after 30 minutes the other week against United.

The England manager is there watching the game and he still gets picked. Townsend and Kyle Walker were the worst two players on the pitch.

How can you tell me that a manager goes and watches Man United against Tottenham, the winger gets taken off after 30 minutes, the winger from the other team absolutely rinses the full-back for England and Ashley Young doesn’t get in the squad?

Andros Townsend holds his head in his hand after being substituted following a torrid first half between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Image: Andros Townsend was substituted after half an hour against Manchester United.

What’s the point of going to watch the match? What are you going up for? You are not watching the game. You are just staying loyal to the players you have got, that doesn’t work. You don’t win anything.

At least go with all youngsters and say: 'These youngsters are going to be with me for the next 4-6 years and stay loyal.' Don’t go up to Manchester United and watch a game where a lad gets ripped off after half an hour and the other gets ripped to shreds by a player who doesn’t get in the England squad – and they both still make the squad.

We have to start off and bring the youngsters through, we are going to qualify for Euro 2016 and then we could go there and say: ‘We might not win it but we are going to take all the youngsters and this is going to be our team for the next World Cup qualifiers and everything.’ And then go from there. It worked for Germany and Spain, so why aren’t we doing it?

It frustrates me, I am not having a go at Townsend because he has done well for England, but if you’re not playing well for your club then, in my day, you had no chance of playing for your country, absolutely zilch.

Graphic
Image: Paul Merson's England team to face Lithuania.

MERSON'S ENGLAND XI V LITHUANIA

Hart; Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Baines; Carrick, Henderson, Welbeck, Sterling; Kane, Rooney

MERSON'S PREDICTION: England 3-0 Lithuania

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