by Lewis Ambrose
With the season coming to an end with a couple of international games it should be noted that Euro 2016 is just a year away.
For the first time in years Arsenal should have strong representation within the England squad.
Roy Hodgson has Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs in his latest England squad. Wilshere played in Sunday’s drab 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland and should start in the qualifier against Slovenia next week.
But, with a year to go, where do the rest of Arsène Wenger’s men stand in Roy Hodgson’s plans?
Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can certainly aim to be starting when the major tournament kicks off next June.
First Wilshere needs to force his way into starting regularly for Arsenal, but it is clear that Roy Hodgson is determined to make it work with the creative midfielder in front of his defence.
Both in the diamond and the 4-3-3 that Hodgson has recently favoured for England Wilshere has been, when fit, deployed as the deepest midfielder.
That seems unlikely to change. His vision and passing range help him but whether he has the defensive qualities to mix it there at the top remains to be seen.
The new role also restricts his ability to drive with the ball in dangerous areas – probably his best attribute.
Whether or not he’s used in his best role it’s evident that Wilshere is central to Hodgson’s England plans.
And so is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Injuries have also held him back, and cost him the opportunity to light up the World Cup, but Oxlade-Chamberlain is rated incredibly highly by the England manager.
Soon after becoming manager Hodgson handed ‘The Ox’ his debut, threw him into the squad for Euro 2012 at the age of 19, and even started him in the tournament opener against France – his first start for his country.
As long as he is available he is played by Wenger and Hodgson alike and both Arsenal and England look better with him than without.
He’ll become a key player for club and country, next season – culminating in a major international tournament – will be his best chance yet to announce himself to the world as a truly quality player.
The two midfielders are England’s most likely starters as far as Arsenal are concerned, but they certainly aren’t alone.
Danny Welbeck will have to force his way into Wenger’s plans a little more over the course of the season but he is another versatile player that Hodgson loves to use.
Welbeck has a hugely impressive 14 goals in his 33 England caps. All of those goals, and most of those appearances, have come under Roy Hodgson.
With Daniel Sturridge still struggling for fitness Welbeck will be right at fronton Hodgson’s mind as he goes into the final year of preparation for France.
If Welbeck doesn’t play regularly for Arsenal next year it will probably be because Theo Walcott is keeping him out of the team.
Walcott has had a tough international career, but ended the season strongly. The injury that kept him out for nearly a year and cost him his place in the Arsenal team seems to be behind him and it is time for him to deliver on the international stage.
One of the two forwards has a good chance to do enough next year that Hodgson can’t ignore him.
Aside from those obvious options, Calum Chambers and Kieran Gibbs will be hoping to stick in the back of Hodgson’s mind.
Both Arsenal defenders appeared three times for England in 2014 having missed out on places in the World Cup squad, but have since dropped back down the pecking order.
Chambers’ versatility could help him – he may even play in midfield for Arsenal at times and can certainly play right-back as well as centre-half. Next season should provide him with more opportunities to impress, and he could also make his mark on the u21 Euros starting later this month.
Gibbs, who has won seven caps, faces a trickier test with Ryan Bertrand, Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw all arguably preferred options.
With some luck one, or both, could be representing Arsenal next summer.
Arsenal haven’t had two English players regularly starting for the Three Lions since Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell were lining up together to sign the national anthem.
At lot can change in a year but Arsenal have six English players with a lot of ability, everything needed to play at international level.
It isn’t unrealistic to expect four or even five Arsenal players play a big role for England in the tournament next summer.
Arsène Wenger’s new look side has plenty of young English players of the highest quality who should be aiming for the very top.
They should be aiming to be integral to the England team at the next major tournament and beyond.