As the dust settles on Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, questions must surely be raised about the paucity of top-class goalkeepers at the England manager’s disposal if, god forbid, Joe Hart were to suffer an injury or suspension. Arguments will continue to rage as to who out of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand should have been left behind this summer but little or no attention has been paid to the goalkeeping selections. Rob Green, although a capable shot-stopper at Championship level, froze on his big opportunity in Rustenburg during the ill-fated world cup campaign, while John Ruddy can only be judged against a single season of solid, if unspectacular performances in the top-flight.

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to make the case for the selection of any other keepers. In fact, I cannot put forward a compelling argument that says Hodgson should have done things any differently. Certainly, one could lobby for the inclusion of Ben Foster had the West Brom stopper not revealed that he does not plan to end a self-imposed exile from international football any time soon. The same applies to Paul Robinson of recently-relegated Blackburn Rovers. Scott Carson, meanwhile, is presumably suffering from being out of sight and out of mind after jetting off to Turkey to rebuild a career blown off track by the infamous Wembley blunder against the Croatians. That only leaves the uncapped David Stockdale of all the remaining Premier League keepers realistically available for selection. Unfortunately for him, first team opportunities have been hard to come by since Mark Schwarzer’s return to fitness earlier this year.

Consequently, Hodgson has had to look to the Championship for a standby keeper and somewhat surprisingly, opted for Birmingham’s Jack Butland. The 19-year old has an impressive pedigree at youth level having represented England at all levels up to the under-21 team but has made just 24 first team appearances in two loan spells at League Two side, Cheltenham Town. All credit to the England boss though, he’s demonstrated that he’s willing to look at the younger players on offer and should one of Hart, Green or Ruddy succumb to injury then tournament experience will be invaluable to Butland’s development as a player. However, none of this detracts from the fact that Hart aside, there just aren’t any top class goalkeepers to choose from nowadays. For me, it is sad that a country once famous for producing the likes of Banks, Shilton, Clemence and Seaman now finds itself in this position.

Is this a damning indictment of the Premier League era where foreign imports increasingly find themselves afforded valuable experience at the expense of homegrown talents? Probably, although when the so-called “golden generation” are collectively cast aside, (as they should have been this time round), we have a potentially solid spine in Phil Jones, Jack Rodwell, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and both Jack Wilshire and Chris Smalling, when fit. Throw Kyle Walker, Josh McEachran, Tom Cleverley and maybe even Connor Wickham into the mix and there are signs for optimism, but only if this young team is left to grow and build a long-lasting understanding with one another. This is the approach successfully adopted by the German team which won many admirers en route to the Semi-Finals of the 2010 World Cup and are much-fancied as champions of this year’s European Championships. Will Hodgson attempt to build a dynasty in this way? Only time will tell.

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