Roy Hodgson speaks on the prospect of a call-up for Norwich's Grant Holt
Roy Hodgson has spoken of his admiration for players like Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert, but also the challenges they face to claim a place in the England squad.
The England Manager was at Norwich City's Carrow Road on Friday evening as a guest of Delia's Canary Catering, helping to raise over £1300 for the Communuty Sports Foundation's Sporting Light Appeal.
And Hodgson answered questions from the 200-strong audience on a variety of topics, including the prospect of England call-ups for the likes of Norwich captain Holt and Southampton striker Lambert.
He said: “The fact is that when you’re a national team coach, you’ve got a job of picking a squad of players and there are a lot of teams up and down the country that feel themselves a bit disadvantaged that they don’t have a representative.
“That’s not to say that their representatives aren’t good enough, and in the case of Grant, there’s no reason why a man like him with the abilities he has couldn’t play for England.
“I haven’t made any strong judgements for or against players like Grant, and people of the same ability as him. Rickie Lambert’s name is often mentioned, and Grant has had a similar career really.
“He’s done fantastically well to come through the lower leagues and prove himself at every level he’s played.
“He’s a player I admire, because I admire everybody who has had a career like he has had. He’s a player whose first step wasn’t into the top Premier League clubs and fated from the first moment he came into professional football.
“He’s a man like Stuart Pearce and like Garry Birtles, whose career has started outside of professional football. He has made such a great career for himself, not only at this club but also at other clubs where he has played.
“I have to say that he has my full admiration, but if I was to give an England cap to every player that has my full admiration then I’d have to find about 420 places and I don’t have quite that many.
“Andy Carroll is another player in that category, and he has been in the England squad, but the last time we played I went down a slightly different route.
“That’s not to say I won’t every go back to a route where I’m looking for a player of Andy Carroll’s stature, of Grant Holt’s stature, and of Rickie Lambert’s stature, and then these players will come very much into consideration."
Hodgson will be back at Carrow Road on Saturday evening to watch the game between Norwich and Manchester United, where he will get a chance to see Holt at closer quarters.
And the former Liverpool and Fulham boss is also confident that Chris Hughton's side can remain in the Premier League both this season and in the longer term.
“If you’re asking me for my opinion on whether Norwich will survive this season in the Premier League and go on to be stronger in years to come then I’ve got a resounding opportunity to say that you’ll definitely do that," he explained.
“I think you’ve got every reason to be proud of your football club for what you’ve done over the last few years.
“Any club that comes here, whether they’re Manchester United or Reading, they will know they’ve got one heck of a fight on their hands when they come to Carrow Road.
“Here you have a family club, a club that’s very well supported, you’re in the Premier League, and you’re in the Premier League to stay.
“Obviously Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones, and David McNally are friends of mine so I’m preaching to the converted to some extent, but I think they’ve done a fantastic job for you, and you’ve achieved a wonderful family atmosphere at the club."