A first England cap for Jack Rodwell in a make or break season

Jack Rodwell was linked with a potential £20m move to Manchester United so often last season that it seemed almost inevitable that they would eventually look elsewhere. With Everton desperate for funds and keen to retain the likes of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, it is believed that Rodwell was actually offered to United for £15m in the summer, an offer that Sir Alex Ferguson declined. Off the back of an indifferent season for Everton and a poor showing at the U-21 European Championships, Rodwell faces a make or break season.

As grubby as it may feel declaring that a 20-year-old footballer is already facing a make or break season, the claim is in relation to a player that is playing in his fourth season in the Premier League and approaching 100 senior appearances. Eventually, potential needs to be realised as many of his contemporaries, the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshire, have all blossomed while Rodwell remains a work in progress.

In and out of the Everton side, Rodwell has the opportunity to become the fulcrum of his present club, in the aftermath of Mikel Arteta’s departure to Arsenal in the summer. The Spaniard has previously been a vocal supporter of Rodwell, stating: “He’s comfortable on the ball and I think central midfield is where he’s best but maybe by the time he’s 23 or 24 he may be a top centre-half.” Arteta’s claim highlights the underlying concern regarding Rodwell, that he is yet to find his ideal position.

Deployed in central midfield by David Moyes, he is neither a defensive shield nor a box-to-box attacking midfielder, the hope has always been that he would emulate Rio Ferdinand and eventually develop in to a stellar centre-back. Drafted in to the England squad for the first time, Rodwell was introduced as a second half substitute in the surprise win over world champions Spain on Saturday and looked comfortable, and he will be hoping to earn a second cap in Tuesday’s friendly with Sweden.

In a summer where the home grown likes of Jordan Henderson, Stuart Downing, Ashley Young and Phil Jones all secured high profile moves involving an obligatory inflated fee, Jack Rodwell proved to be the odd man out. With Everton currently occupying 17th place in the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand, they look vulnerable at present and are in danger of being left behind; in that respect, Rodwell’s fortunes mirror those of his employers.

Recently photographed looking resplendent in the new Team GB strip, Rodwell is likely to be selected by his England U-21 manager Stuart Pearce for Olympic duty. Now that he has been selected and featured for the senior side, he also has the chance to impress Fabio Capello ahead of the European Championships, where he has an outside chance of making the cut. With the likes of Frank Lampard and Stephen Gerrard winding down their international careers, there will be plenty of opportunities in central midfield in the next few years if Rodwell can maximise his potential. He could also inherit the keys to the current Everton side in the process, which would certainly make his high profile suitors sit up and take notice too.

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