England manager Fabio Capello has taken a lot of stick this week for sending five players home ahead of the England v Ghana game at Wembley. But what it does mean is both Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka will start – the first time two Blues have started an England game since 2007.
Jagielka did make it onto the pitch at the Millennium Stadium against Wales on Saturday though it was merely a five minute cameo to help see out the game, which ended in a comfortable 2-0 win. Baines didn't even make the squad, strange considering he is meant to be Ashley Cole’s direct understudy, but I fancy him to grab a goal tonight – from a free kick obviously!
Elsewhere at the weekend, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was a second half substitute for Russia in a 0-0 draw with Armenia. Jan Mucha kept a clean sheet as Slovakia won 1-0 in Andorra while John Heitinga (more of him later) played the full 90 minutes as Holland beat Hungary 4-0 Friday night.
Shane Duffy, who has just joined Burnley on loan, was a second half substitute as Republic of Ireland Under-21s lost 2-0 in Portugal while Shkodran Mustafi’s turned out for Germany Under-19s in their 2-1 win over Belgium.
Special mention though has to go to Tim Howard. The Toffees number one was man-of-the-match as the US drew 1-1 with South American giants Argentina. If any of you guys have any footage of Howard’s performance then feel free to post it as a fanshot and I will promote it to the front page. He was outstanding by all accounts.
Back to our Jonny and the Dutchman has been spouting off the press, saying he deserves to start in the team simply because he played in the World Cup final (where his team lost and he was sent off incidentally!).
I can understand his frustrations to a point, but there is an underlying arrogance with the Dutchman and a sense of entitlement not backed up by his performances on the pitch. He had a run at centre back but we kept conceding goals and the form of Jagielka and Sylvan Distin has forced him out of the team. He should be a professional and earn his extortionate wages by knuckling down, rather than whining and refusing to play at right back.
Sadly I think he is talking his way towards a summer transfer and to be honest I don’t think he will be missed, especially if we can get in excess of the £6million we paid for him in 2009.
To help make your own mind up about him here are his quotes:
"I have certainly not come here to sit on the bench. Together with Phil Neville, I have more experience than all the others. I have played in four major national team tournaments and I have played the World Cup final.
"I belong to the 22 best players in the world and I belong to the four best central defenders in the world. Ok, I won’t exaggerate now! But make it ten best central defenders in the world. That should be enough confirmation.
"Once you’ve been on the biggest stage in the world and once you’ve played in the final of the World Cup, it gives you a boost as a player. It is fantastic for your confidence.
"I don’t want to moan. At the end of the day it is all down to me. Apart from not playing sometimes, I love it here in England. I am still aiming for big success here in England. Well, I have played 65 games in the Premier League in two seasons. That is a start.
"I hope being out is a temporary thing. I will decide in the summer what I will do."
"It’s strange for me to sit on the bench at Everton. I will always claim that I am the best central defender at this club - definitely since the World Cup.
"I could understand it if the manager leaves me out of the team when I make big mistakes. But right now I can’t get over the last few weeks.
"The manager is not a big talker. Never has been. He does not explain his decisions to others either. He just says everybody will get playing time."
"Distin and Jagielka are big guys, almost half a head bigger than me.
"The manager prefers power in central defense. But I am convinced I can supply that power too. I am not 6 feet 6inches tall, but I don’t lose any headers. I proved that against many top class strikers.
"When I watch the Champions League on tv, my stomach turns. I used to hear the hymn of the Champions League as an Ajax player in the stadium. Now I am lying on a couch in front of the telly here in England on such nights.’
"I want to be in Europe again. I want to get there with Everton, but it is a big fight. We have a lot of competition.
"I refuse to go and play in every position now. I don’t want to be right back again. I told the manager that.
"I’m not worried about the future. My career is still going up. I can tell that by the massive clubs who came knocking on the door for me in the winter. One of them was so serious and so concrete. But I did not want to leave in the middle of a season. And Everton did not want to let me go.
"That was a good sign. I feel I can still become an important player here for the fans and the team."