England’s nearly men

Players who have received call-ups to the England squad, but were never capped, has always been a question that has been raised during pub conversations.

Some recent(ish) call-ups – such as Michael Mancienne, Sean Davis, Joe Lewis and Jimmy Bullard – are, perhaps, easier to remember, while established names like Shaka Hislop, Dominic Matteo and Jlloyd Samuel eventually received caps for other international sides.

Others, who were involved in Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle’s get-together squads during the 1990s – such as Garry Flitcroft, Richard Edghill, Richard Hall, Darren Huckerby, Carl Serrant and Wayne Quinn – are more obscure.

There have even been some players who have been called up to the England squad, but have since been capped for other countries – such as Shaka Hislop, Jlloyd Samuel and Dominic Matteo.

There are still enough candidates for a full-line up of players, who were called up to the England squad but never capped.

Richard Jobson is someone who could be included, but who are the eleven chosen players?

GK: Kevin Pressman

Kevin Pressman has been involved in many battles for the number one jersey during his career – particularly during his fondly remembered spell at Sheffield Wednesday – but this was a battle that he failed to win.

Pressman was resigned to receive several call-ups as England’s third-choice goalkeeper, despite acclaimed performances during the 1990s.

This could, perhaps, be considered as a crying shame given his talents for taking penalties.

DF: David May

David May – due to a defensive injury crisis in the England squad – earned a surprise call-up for the home match with Mexico in March 1997, after some impressive performances at the heart of Manchester United’s defence.

May initially struggled at Old Trafford, after failing to dislodge Steve Bruce in the centre of defence, as he had to make do with playing out-of-position at right-back.

These early performances led to May’s harsh inclusion in The Times’ Top 50 Worst Premier League Footballers list, but his excellent performances during the 1996-1997 season merited his solidarity call-up.

May now works as wine merchant and pundit for MUTV.

DF: Alan Wright

Alan Wright also earned his single inclusion in the England squad because of an injury crisis, which was before England’s friendly with Croatia in April 1996.

The attacking left-back made over 250 first-team appearances for Aston Villa – during an eight year spell at Villa Park – but he failed to dislodge Graeme Le Saux, Phil Neville and Stuart Pearce at international level.

Wright is currently playing for Conference North side Fleetwood Town – despite being 39 years old – after spells with Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Cheltenham Town.

DF: Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw found himself amongst England’s finest, when he was announced as a back-up player for the 1995 Umbro Cup squad.

This was his reward for a number of assured performances for Crystal Palace during the 1994-1995 season, which earned him the club’s Player of the Season Award.

They were relegated at the end of this season, despite the fact that they only conceded 49 goals in 42 Premier League matches.

He later made a £1m move to Coventry City in November 1995 and ended his career at Millwall in 2008.

MF: Steve Froggatt

Former Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Steve Froggatt was seen as one of England’s most promising prospects, after making a £1.9m move to Coventry City in October 1998.

Froggatt was seen as a possible solution to England’s left-side problem and he found himself on the bench, during their Euro 2000 qualification play-off tie against Scotland.

He was also called up to the senior side for the friendly with Argentina in February 2000.

Froggatt, unfortunately, was on the receiving end of a horror tackle by Sunderland’s Nicky Summerbee days after this and was one that ended his career.

Froggatt set up his own fitness company, after retiring in 2001, and he also works as a football pundit on television and radio.

MF: Mark Draper

Mark Draper was a key performer for Leicester City and Aston Villa during the 1990s, so it came as no surprise when he was called up for a World Cup qualifier against Poland in October 1996.

Draper was involved in England’s get-together squad in April 1995, which was part of Terry Venables’ preparations for Euro 1996.

Draper later from suffered several injury problems and he lost his place when John Gregory was in charge at Villa Park.

Draper’s career never recovered from this and – after spells at Southampton, non-league outfit Dunkirk and as Notts County’s kit-man – he is working as a property developer.

MF: David Thompson

Many Liverpool trainees have received England caps over the years but – despite Sven Goran Eriksson being a big fan of the midfielder – David Thompson failed to receive a single cap during his time at Blackburn Rovers.

After being called up for the Euro 2004 qualifiers against FYROM and Slovakia, Thompson’s career was later dogged by several cartilage injuries.

He struggled to rebuild his career at Ewood Park and spent the remaining years of his career drifting from one club to another.

Thompson eventually retired in November 2007 – after unsuccessful spells at Wigan Athletic, Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers.

MF: Darren Eadie

Darren Eadie gained a glowing reputation as one of the best players outside of the Premier League, during his time at Norwich City.

His outstanding form at Carrow Road led to two appearances in England’s senior squads – for the 1997 Tournoi de France tournament and Glenn Hoddle’s get-together squad in 1998 – as the England manager was clearly an admirer of Eadie’s flair and eye for goal.

He failed to earn an England cap, however, as he had to withdraw from both squads due to injury problems.

Eadie continued to suffer from injuries later in his career, especially when he made a £3m move to Premier League regulars Leicester City.

MF: Lee Clark

Lee Clark was a steady performer for his boyhood side Newcastle United and he was called up to the England squad, for the Tournoi de France competition in 1997, alongside Eadie.

While Clark did not withdraw from the squad, he did not play in any of England’s matches during the tournament.

Clark soon moved to Sunderland and Fulham, before making an emotional return to St. James Park as a player-coach in 2005.

He has since made an excellent start to his managerial career at Huddersfield Town.

FW: Chris Armstrong

Chris Armstrong regularly found himself near the top of the Premier League and Division One goalscoring charts, during his time at Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur, but Armstrong failed to make his mark at the international stage.

The striker – despite being a dependable performer – found it hard to make an international breakthrough, due to a failed drug test in 1995 and strong competition from various English forwards.

Armstrong eventually received an international call-up, for a Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland in March 1999, but he later lost his first-team place at White Hart Lane and soon went into obscurity.

He left Spurs in 2002 for spells at Bolton Wanderers and Wrexham, before retiring.

FW: Matt Jansen

Matt Jansen was tipped to partner Michael Owen, during the 2002 World Cup, after some majestic displays for Blackburn Rovers.

The former Crystal Palace and Carlisle United forward was also set to start in a friendly against Paraguay in April 2002, until he had to withdraw from the squad due to a stomach virus.

Jansen was still seen as one of England’s hottest prospects, until he was involved in a motorcycle accident that nearly cost him his life.

Jansen struggled to rebuild his career, due to problems with injuries and depression, after the accident.

Nonetheless, Jansen is still keen to carry on his career and can now be found playing for Garry Flitcroft’s Leigh Genesis.


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