England manager Roy Hodgson has named his squad for Euro 2012, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the most adventurous selection in the list of 23.
The 18-year-old gets the nod despite only starting six times in the Premier League since his move to Arsenal last summer. Yet Hodgson deserves praise for the selection of a player whose ability to beat a man is scarce in the rest of the party and, indeed, in English soccer in general.
But the new England boss must also face severe question marks over his inclusion of another wide man, Stewart Downing. Since his £20 million move to Liverpool last summer, the 27-year-old has contributed a grand total of 0 goals and 0 assists in the Premier League.
Has a player ever been selected in a major tournament for England having had a worse season?
Indeed there is something of a curiosity in no club side being better represented in the England squad than Liverpool. Intriguing not only because Liverpool have been so poor in the Premier League, but also because Hodgson suffered the worst spell of his managerial career in charge at Anfield two years ago.
The selection of Andy Carroll perhaps reflects as much about England's embarrassing lack of options up front as it does the £35 million-man's recent encouraging displays.
Arguably the most bizarre selection of all, though, is that of Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson on the standby list. Though he offers more versatility, the sight of the former Sunderland player on the list will be an enormous slap in the face to Michael Carrick, who is left out entirely.
The Manchester United man has been a regular fixture in a side that has won the Premier League title in four of the last six seasons, yet has never been the personal fancy of various managers at international level. While the 30-year-old has rightly been criticized for his tendency to get overawed in the biggest games, it surely can't be argued that he offers an ability to control possession demonstrated by few other English players
But the central theme of the squad is that it is one picked with a realization of England's limitations. One only has to look down the list to know that this is far from a vintage set of players and the Three Lions have no right to expect to be realistic contenders for the Euro 2012 title.
The likes of Gareth Barry and James Milner and, of course, Downing are far from inspiring, but will be tactically disciplined and workman-like. An approach that has been shown to pay dividends for underdogs in major tournaments in the past.
Hodgson will likely realize himself, though, that implementing a conservative stance on the England team poses some major difficulties. First, he will encounter a tabloid media and certain section of fans who still maintain the erroneous belief that England should be able to stick it up Johnny Foreigner. But likely to be more of an issue is imposing a rigid structure on a group of players, many of whom suffer from severely inflated egos.
While not necessarily an ego issue, It is ironic that the most unsettling presence could be that of the man today named as England's captain, Steven Gerrard. For all his phenomenal talent, throughout his career the Liverpool legend has displayed an inability or unwillingness to perform with any kind of positional discipline. How Hodgson works his team around these problems will likely be crucial to England's progress this summer.
England Squad for Euro 2012:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United), John Ruddy (Norwich City).
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton), John Terry (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur).
Standby list: Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea).