Aban­don­ing fam­ily at air­port earns Liver­more a sur­prise Eng­land call-up

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - PAUL WIL­SON

WHEN Gareth Southgate named his first Eng­land squad of this World Cup year for the forth­com­ing friendlies against the Nether­lands and Italy there were a few sur­prise omis­sions — Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Danny Drinkwa­ter among them — but the in­clu­sion that stood out was that of Jake Liver­more.

The mid­fielder has not been en­joy­ing the best of sea­sons at West Bromwich Al­bion, where he has not al­ways been a reg­u­lar starter, and we know Alan Shearer for one thought Jonjo Shelvey has made a more press­ing case for se­lec­tion. Yet Southgate is the loyal type, per­fectly will­ing to de­fend his de­ci­sion in a way that re­veals a lot about his thought pro­cesses for Rus­sia this sum­mer.

“Jake has been hav­ing a tough time at his club but it is very straight­for­ward for me,” the Eng­land man­ager said. “We’ve played Jake in sev­eral matches and he’s done a job for the team.

“In Novem­ber we left him out and he was just about to board a plane for a hol­i­day when we called him back at the last mo­ment, be­cause we had had a few with­drawals. He left his fam­ily at the air­port, came to join us and did re­ally well against Brazil and Ger­many. I think that has to carry some weight when you are build­ing the spirit and cul­ture around your team.

“That doesn’t mean he is guar­an­teed to go to Rus­sia in the sum­mer, but I think it jus­ti­fies him stay­ing in our squad. We are look­ing to build a spirit, a to­geth­er­ness, and I think that sort of ex­am­ple of sac­ri­fice is im­por­tant. I un­der­stand why there might be a bit of re­ac­tion to pick­ing Jake but there is a spe­cific rea­son why we have done it this time.”

Na­tional team man­agers al­ways have trou­ble with in­juries and with­drawals, it goes with the ter­ri­tory, though Southgate be­lieves the fringe play­ers who are of­ten the ones messed around need to show the men­tal tough­ness to stay pos­i­tive.

“There is an im­por­tant mes­sage to send to the group that if you are dis­ap­pointed at be­ing left out there might be an op­por­tu­nity to come back in,” he ex­plained. “If you re­spond in the right way, who knows what might hap­pen?

“When I went to the World Cup in 2002 Trevor Sin­clair was a standby player. He wasn’t even first choice, he was the sec­ond standby. Danny Mur­phy was ini­tially called in ahead of him but then Danny got in­jured. Trevor had re­turned to Eng­land but he flew back to Japan and he ended up play­ing in the match against Ar­gentina . So it’s a mes­sage to ev­ery­one in the group as much as to Jake. Stay pos­i­tive.”

Southgate him­self is try­ing to stay pos­i­tive about a tour­na­ment cur­rently in dan­ger of be­ing over­shad­owed by strained diplo­matic re­la­tions and po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing, though he still in­tends to have his fam­ily come to visit when Eng­land are in Rus­sia.

“That is the plan at the mo­ment, but we are like ev­ery­one else, we will have to see what the ad­vice is and if things change,” he said. “Rus­sia is cul­tur­ally an in­cred­i­ble coun­try to visit, so I would like them to have that ex­pe­ri­ence, and to go to a World Cup as well. I don’t think my chil­dren will be there for too long, they have to fit their visit around school and univer­sity, but their in­ten­tion is to go.”

West Brom’s Jake Liver­more (right) tus­sles for pos­ses­sion with Ever­ton’s Yan­nick Bo­lasie

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.