How Close is Holding to An England Call Up? by Dan Smith
There were a few raised eyebrows when Unai Emery allowed Calum Chambers to leave on loan. Even if designed for the players development, the assumption was that he was ahead of Rob Holding in the pecking order. Yet as Chambers is having a nightmare at Fulham, Holding is on a run of four consecutive starts.
It’s no coincidence his best form came when he got a run in the side at the end of his debut campaign, making him an unlikely hero in the FA Cup Final, that performance alone recouping the one million we paid Bolton. At a time when Gareth Southgate has been open to giving caps to youth, he’s so far ignored the youngsters breaking through at the Emirates. Holding wasn’t helped by only playing in the odd cup tie last year, his confidence shaken by the lack of leadership in the dressing room.
Yet our national boss continues to contradict his criteria for selection, not picking one of the few options who experiences European football but then choosing someone from the Championship. In his last squad he preferred Nathaniel Chalobah to Holding, despite the on-loan Chelsea defender yet to start in the League for the Hornets. Since coming on at Everton, Holding has helped us to 3 straight clean sheets yet someone who can’t get a game for Watford is deemed a better solution? It could just be Holding doesn’t have the attributes Southgate wants from one of his centre backs.
Despite playing every week for Man United, the door has been closed on Chris Smalling due to the belief he’s not comfortable with the ball at his feet. Is that the perception of Holding? If it is, he’s working with the right manager in terms of learning how to build attacks from the back, a principle Emery is trying to instil at the Emirates. From a defensive point of view, I have no concerns and feel he can grow into a leader the more he lines up alongside an experienced partner.
He wasn’t perfect on Monday Night, another time we would have spoken about him conceding a penalty and getting sent off. Yet he’s at an age where inconsistency is standard, no different to a John Stones. The aspect to take away from Leicester, is after a wobbly start he didn’t let his self-belief crumble. Showing perhaps he’s mentally tougher than last season?
How near is he to the England Squad?