Marc Albrighton is one the most consistently good and hardest-working players in the Leicester City squad. The former Villa man’s signature skill is his crossing, and he’s been better this year than ever before. His seven assists so far this year are a career best for him, and his passing accuracy is the highest it’s been in a Leicester shirt (and it’s not like the Foxes have much in the way of a target man to aim for). In short, he’s a very, very good player who’s at the top of his game right now.
So, he’s a terrific crosser of the ball, scores a few goals, does his defensive work, will play anywhere the manager asks him to, but does he have any “big game” credentials? Well, he won the Premier League, he scored the club’s first-ever goal in the Champions League and the winning goal against Sevilla, and he’s English. Why has he never been capped at the senior level?
Albrighton is a versatile player, but he’s most often deployed as a classic wide man in a 4-4-2. Think “David Beckham” in terms of roles on the pitch and you’re not far off. Stewart Downing and Joe Cole played a similar role, as did Ashley Young (man, did Villa have some great wingers?) and even Steve Guppy.
And...now we’re starting to get the crux of the matter. How many touchline wingers have been in the England squad of late? Ashley Young is back in the fold, but only because of his switch to wing-back. The sad fact of the matter is: England do not play a 4-4-2 and they do not use wingers.
Unfortunately, it may not matter how well Albrighton plays and how much he merits a call up. He plays his club football in a formation that England never use, and in a position that doesn’t exist in the England setup. You’d think a creative England manager would find a way to use a player like Leicester’s #11, or at least you would if you didn’t know anything about England managers.
So, Marc Albrighton will spend the summer doing whatever he wants to do instead of flying off to the World Cup in Russia. He’ll miss out on scraping through the group stages, unconvincing wins against mediocre opponents, and then going out in the first round of the knockout stations. I doubt he’d agree with me, but he may be fortunate to be so criminally overlooked.