Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has told of his kick up the backside he recieved by being omitted from the England squad under former Three Lions manager Sam Allardyce.
At 23 years-old, a regular under previous boss Roy Hodgson and with 24 caps to his name, Oxlade-Chamberlain is proof fitness and selection for England is not something any player can take for granted.
Following a knee injury that he suffered whilst taking part in an extra training session, he was ruled out of the Euro 2016. Then having recovered to what he felt was full fitness, Oxlade-Chamberlain was shocked to find himself left out of Allardyce’s one game against Slovakia in August.
He never got the chance to speak to Allardyce about it, but it proved to be a big wake up call for the midfielder, who now realises how hard it is to get into the squad when there are so many young players out there doing really well.
“I have been playing for England since I was 18 and while I wouldn’t say I took it all for granted it just seemed to be a part of my season – to play for Arsenal and to play for England,” he told reporters.
“And so to be available and to be feeling good and fit – to not be in, yeah, it was a jolt. It was a wake -up call. I am not young now, I am 23 now, so you need to be performing and playing as much as you can to deserve a chance to go and play for England. Being back in the set-up now makes me realise how special it is and it is something I want to keep happening.”
Now to be included in interim manager Gareth Southgate 23-man squad for the upcoming fixtures against Malta at Wembley on Saturday and Tuesday’s trip to Slovenia, has brought it home how significant the recall is.