England national team

Jack Wilshere watches Xabi Alonso highlights on his iPad

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At 22-years-old, Jack Wilshere still has a lot to learn.

If you’re going to learn from someone, Xabi Alonso is a pretty good choice.

Wilshere has been given a new role for the England national team, sitting deeper in the center of midfield in more of a holding position.

[ MORE: Xabi Alonso breaks touches record ]

That’s the exact role Xabi Alonso has played throughout his career, currently dominating the midfield for German giants Bayern Munich.

In an effort to learn more about his new role for the Three Lions, Wilshere said he has been studying video clips of Xabi Alonso on his iPad.

I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks. He had a record number of passes in one game, 200 in one match, which is ridiculous.

I get clips of Alonso through on my iPad. The analyst guys here send them to me and they highlight some of his key points, his key strengths. It’s a 20- to 25-minute package.”

While Wilshere has definitely chosen the right player to learn from, he has quite a ways to go before his name can be mentioned with the greats like Xabi Alonso. Coming from the attack-minded offense of Arsene Wenger with Arsenal, Wilshere will have to adapt to his defensive role under Roy Hodgson with England.

[ RELATED: Roy Hodgson names England squad for matches vs. Scotland, Slovenia ]

Luckily for Wilshere, he has many years ahead of him as a central midfielder for England. If he can maintain his health, he has the potential to develop into one of Europe’s premier midfielders.

Jack Wilshere has similarities to a young Wayne Rooney, a player with loads of talent but questioned for his maturity and leadership. Rooney has grown, now the captain of England and closing in on the all-time goalscoring record for the Three Lions.

[ RECAP: Swansea City stuns Arsenal with 2-1 victory ]

If Wilshere learns to grow up on and off the pitch, there is no doubt he will become one of the most important players for England.

Learning from Xabi Alonso is a good start.

Nathaniel Clyne waiting for first England cap

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After playing four years in the Championship with Crystal Palace, Nathaniel Clyne was touted as a talented back with offensive potential.

Now in his third Premier League season with Southampton, Clyne is challenging for a starting role with the England national team.

[ RELATED: Clyne earns first England call-up ]

Still only 23-years-old and with over six years of professional experience in England’s top flights, Clyne could be set to make his first appearance for the Three Lions as they take on Slovenia and Scotland during the upcoming international break.

Clyne got his first-ever call-up from Roy Hodgson earlier this month, but did not feature in any matches for England.

[ RELATED: Ryan Bertrand open to permanent Southampton move ]

But with his recent run of play and Southampton’s stellar defensive record, Clyne could challenge John Stones on England’s back line.

Through ten matches of Premier League play, Southampton have only conceded five goals, half as many as any other team. They have also outscored their opponents 15-1 at home, making St. Mary’s a feared destination for traveling teams.

England manager Roy Hodgson was at the KC Stadium to watch Clyne, who put in a strong performance in Saints 1-0 win over Hull City. After the match, the right-back said he is ready to represent his country.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Hopefully I’ve done enough to get a call-up. I feel fit, I feel strong, I’m getting a lot of game time and I’m enjoying it.

It’s always good to play for your country. If you play well then you get picked up. Last time I did. Hopefully I can get called up again and receive my first cap.”

If Clyne were to get a call-up, the 23-year-old would be one of the older defenders on England’s squad, joining a group of talented youth including Luke Shaw (19), Calum Chambers (19) and John Stones (20).

Gareth Barry shares views on MLS, Everton and international duty

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Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard starting in the central midfield with David Villa at striker.

That could have been New York City FC’s lineup had Gareth Barry chosen to join the MLS after his last campaign at Everton.

[RELATED: David Villa not fully fit ]

Barry remains at Goodison Park, a seasoned veteran with over 500 Premier League appearances. In a piece from The Telegraph, the 33-year-old Barry said he wasn’t ready to “retire” from the game.

 

America was an option and there was a conversation about it but when I spoke to the coaches here they said, ‘If you are going there, you are retiring.’

That was in my head. Obviously I did not agree it was retiring but I sort of agreed it would have been going to a league that is up and coming and not as big as the Premier League so I could see their point.”

In the midst of the war of words between Jurgen Klinsmann and Don Garber, it is interesting to get the take of a current player as well respected as Gareth Barry on the state of the MLS.

[RELATED: Garber calls Klinsmann’s comments ‘frustrating as hell’ | Klinsmann responds ]

source: Getty Images
Barry has had trouble maintaining a consistent spot for the Three Lions.

After signing a three-year extension with Everton, Barry is now looking to regain a place in the England side.

“It’s good to see so many young players in the squad, but that is not to say you feel you still cannot do a job. I’m not hung up on it now. The manager made his decision and I was overlooked. I still feel I could do a job, it’s just that time has moved on and others are getting their chances.”

Barry has earned 53 caps for England, but has had a mercurial international career after breaking into the first-team as a 19-year-old in 2000. As Roy Hodgson continues to usher in a new generation of young English talents, Barry’s window of opportunity may be closing.

While the defensive-midfielder is trying to earn an England call-up as a 33-year-old, he believes his lack of consistent international appearances have helped him stay fresher, as balancing club and national team duties can take a toll on a player.

[ RELATED: Raheem Sterling felt ‘tired’ for England ]

“I think playing international football burns players out, but I was in and out of the England squad so never felt that.

It must be tougher for a young player to take it all in now then it was when I was 17. There are so many sports scientists around now giving their opinion. They were not there when I was 17. You had a doctor and physic and that was it.”

Roberto Martinez will hope Barry’s fresh legs can help Everton, who sit just two points clear of relegation.

Wayne Rooney insists England are ready to prove doubters wrong

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Despite scoring his 41st goal for the Three Lions last week and being named as the new permanent captain by Roy Hodgson, Wayne Rooney is still under intense pressure from the English media and fans after a lackluster display.

[RELATED: Euro 2016 preview]

The Manchester United forward skippered England to a 1-0 win against Norway in a friendly last Thursday, in front of a record low crowd of just over 40,000 at Wembley Stadium. England’s fans aren’t full of optimism following a World Cup campaign which saw them exit at the group stage this summer.

Rooney, 28, has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders as England prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland on Monday. With Hodgson’s men under pressure to perform away against the Swiss in Basel, Rooney is adamant his teammates are up to the task of getting their qualifying campaign off and running in a positive manner.

England are planning to silence the critics.

“There is the determination,” Rooney said. “We’re a tight-knit group and we’re working hard together to get the best out of each other. We’ve got a lot of quality in the team and it’s about that quality coming together. It’s probably the most difficult game of the group and we want to do well and come out of it with a good result. We are ready. We’ve had a bit more time through the week to prepare for the game and we’re excited. It’s going to be a big test but we feel we have the quality to do well.”

If England don’t get at least a point against the Swiss, Rooney, Hodgson and the rest of the team will be under even more pressure. There is a sour smell in the air around the England camp. With injuries to players such as Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and others, plus the retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard over the summer, youngsters such as Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers and even Fabian Delph could play a pivotal role on Monday.

Rooney’s role as the leader is vital. Four years ago England went to Basel and won 3-1 in a qualifier for Euro 2012 and Rooney scored. What Hodgson and his men would do for a repeat of that result this time around…

International friendlies: Mouthwatering midweek matches on the slate

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With the international break in full swing, there’s plenty of action to look forward to in the next few days.

Some monster European nations clash, plus the USA face Czech Republic in Prague on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN, online via Live Extra) in their first game since the World Cup ended.

[WATCH: USA vs. Czech Republic, live on NBCSN]

In Europe, England host Norway at Wembley with a new-look side for Roy Hodgson but three epic clashes top the bill. On Wednesday Germany play Argentina in a repeat of the World Cup final, what a cracker that will be as Gerardo Martino takes charge of his first game as the boss of Albiceleste. His side will be looking to avenge their narrow World Cup final defeat to the Germans, but will have to do so without an injured Lionel Messi who didn’t make the trip to Dusseldorf.

Elsewhere, on Thursday Italy face the Netherlands, plus France host Spain as four of Europe’s elite soccer nations lock horns in their first games since the World Cup this summer.

Below is a full list of the friendlies coming up over the next two days, plus we will have a roundup of all the games and plenty more reaction from the USA’s game in Prague.

Wednesday
Czech Republic vs. USA – 2:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN, live online
England vs. Norway – Fox Sports 2, 3 p.m. ET
Germany vs. Argentina – ESPN News, 2:30 p.m. ET
Russia vs. Azerbaijan
Lithuania vs.United Arab Emirates
Ukraine vs.Moldova
Latvia vs. Armenia
Denmark vs. Turkey
Republic of Ireland vs. Oman

Thursday
Italy vs. Netherlands
France vs. Spain – ESPN Deportes, 3 p.m. ET
Bos-Herce vs. Liechtenstein
Slovakia vs. Malta
Sweden vs. Estonia
Croatia vs. Cyprus
Belgium vs. Australia