Everton Club Focus – Rodwell the latest in long line of England Blues

Jack Rodwell will join a long line of Everton England internationals if the midfielder makes his senior Three Lions bow when Fabio Capello’s side meet Spain on Saturday. The 20-year-old follows in the footsteps of not only Wayne Rooney and current Toffee Phil Jagielka, but also players of the past the calibre of Gary Lineker and Martin Keown.

There, is, however, an unsettling theme amongst many of Everton’s England players, that of international recognition leading quite quickly to a departure from Goodison Park. Jagielka has thus far bucked the trend and resisted the overtures of Arsenal, but his former defensive colleague Joleon Lescott barely hesitated to trade in Everton’s dark blue for Manchester City’s lighter hue.

Lineker and Keown were both spirited away in the late 1980s and early 1990s after impressing on the world stage, while Rooney’s Euro 2004 performances confirmed to the watching suitors what was already known on Merseyside, that the forward was of rare quality. Seven years later he is more closely identified with the team he joined that summer, Manchester United, than the team with which he started his career.

That is not to say Rodwell will follow suit. Indeed, the vultures were already circling long before Rodwell’s name was included in a senior England squad, with Manchester United his most often mentioned admirers. A strong showing, should he get the chance, against Spain and Sweden could nevertheless catapult Rodwell into consideration for the Euro 2012 party which, combined with the starting role Rodwell currently occupies for Everton, could intensify the interest from outside in the burly midfielder.

Add in Everton’s parlous financial state and it is a recipe that would invite tempting offers from wealthier clubs for one of Everton’s prized home-grown possessions. Perhaps tellingly, when Bill Kenwright listed in a private conversation that eventually became public four names he would never entertain selling, they were Tim Howard, Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. Rodwell was not mentioned.

If Everton’s financial state does not improve by the summer transfer window, even if Rodwell does not make Euro 2012 or have a particularly impressive season, the temptation to yield to a substantial offer will grow. Talented as he is, Rodwell is not an unsellable asset for Everton, and considering the financial state of the club the wisdom of retaining a player who is still all potential in the face of a multi-million pound offer must at least be questioned.

Nonetheless, Rodwell has signed a series of new contracts at Everton and showed no inclination to move on, but if he realises his potential at a faster rate than Everton can push up the table – the Rooney conundrum – circumstances may change. But that is merely conjecture, and the current state of affairs sees Rodwell forming a solid if static midfielder partnership with Fellaini for Everton, and under little pressure for his first team spot.

Having progressed from a reserve and youth team centre-back into a Premier League midfielder under David Moyes, Rodwell is on the verge of the next step, into the international arena. If history is any indication, that could also be the step that puts Rodwell on the road out of Goodison Park.

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