When Roy Hodgson named his recent England squad, for many West Ham fans there seemed to be a name missing.
Like most other Hammers when the squad was announced the first thing I done was look at the midfielder’s category hoping and expecting to see our own Mark Noble there. Of course, he was not. With England in transition between the old guard and a new generation going into the 2014 World Cup then why wasn’t Noble given a callup? The midfielder embodies everything an England international should be about and should be seriously considered. In a time where English footballers are criticised and seen as in a bad light by most of the public, West Ham’s longest serving player is a model professional. He defines loyalty. The Canning Town born player has supported the club since he was a young boy and is now seen as the heartbeat of the club.
When the club was relegated a lot of class players jumped ship but Noble stayed, rolled up his sleeves and played his best ever football to help get the club promoted. But of course, loyalty alone doesn’t mean you deserve an England call up. With Scott Parker injured, Noble would be the perfect replacement as the holding midfielder in an England midfield three. The main characteristic for a holding midfielder is obviously defending, and Noble’s defending and tackling has been superb this season. In-fact he has made more tackles than any other midfielder in the Premier League this season, averaging 5.5 tackles per game. Noble enjoys the dirty side of the game, he loves going in for a 50-50 tackle and it’s this grittiness that he has that would make him a superb fit in the England starting line-up.
But at the international stage you need to have more than being able to tackle. Any international standard holding midfielder needs to be able to use the ball well when they win it back. And after coming through the famed academy Mark Noble certainly has the ability on the ball, his passing this season speaks for itself. West Ham’s Hammer of the Year is also an expert at recycling possession. On the international stage the ability the keep the ball is what wins games. When England played Italy in the quarter final, and Andrea Pirlo gave the England midfield a master class in keeping possession.
It goes without saying that Noble is not in the same calibre as Pirlo but he is arguably England’s nearest thing to him in terms of keeping possession. Noble has attempted 423 passes this season with an accuracy of 85pc and that’s in a team that plays ‘long ball’ football. Noble has all the characteristics to be an England player and he should have been put into Roy’s latest squad. However if he can continue to put in superb performances for the Hammers then surely it’s a case of when and not if he gets a call-up.