There was a tinge of disappointment this afternoon when neither Jack Cork nor Jay Rodriguez were named in the England XI for the u21s fixture in Italy. Two players not in the initial squad, strangely, took their places; Josh McEachran (Chelsea) and James Vaughan (on loan at Crystal Palace).
I say McEachran took Cork’s place, because Jack has only been deployed by Burnley as a central midfielder- but that was not his calling this afternoon. Jack Rodwell, playing at centre-half, was forced off after twelve minutes and was replaced by Cork. Out of his regular club position, he looked extremely composed and comfortable as the game, boringly, moved on. Commentating, Jason Cundy was so impressed that he touted Cork as man of the match.
Burnley boy Rodriguez was the big story at Turf Moor though, and following Daniel Sturridge’s withdrawal there were whispers that ‘Super Jay’ could start. Instead Stuart Pearce went with James Vaughan who had been called up on the back of Sturridge pulling out. JayRod replaced Vaughan with about 25 minutes remaining, but unfortunately made little impact. It wasn’t a game full of attacking prowess, but Rodriguez did have a couple of neat touches when called upon.
The Italians won it late on through a Kiko Macheda penalty- the Italian was Manchester United’s only representative in the match. Cork’s defensive partner Ben Mee had been caught flat footed which led to him giving away the penalty clumsily in the 88th minute. Twice in a matter of minutes before the penalty though Swansea’s Scott Sinclair could have won it for England in a match otherwise defunct of genuine chances.
Despite at first being bitter at the inclusion of McEachran, I was very impressed with glimpses of his talent. The Chelsea youngster showed some great touches and vision, inparticuarly a slided pass through to Albrihton. As for the duo from Burnley, Jack Cork has surely done enough to cement his place in Pearce’s squad for this summers European Championships in Denmark. Cork performed ably at the back, and as all clarets will know he also offers an excellent option in midfield.
As for Jay, I would be very surprised to see him in Denmark this summer. Don’t let that take away from the former Barden High School pupil’s achievement though. It is simply a case of so many other forwards already ahead of him in the pecking order. He made the folk of Burnley proud today, now let’s just hope he can build on his success- unlike our last England u21 international Richard Chaplow.