In Hull City’s 113-year history the club have never had a player represent England. While the likes of Raich Carter, Nick Barmby and Michael Dawson were all full internationals prior to their stints with City, no Tiger has ever pulled on the famous Three Lions for a first team fixture. While the likes of Jake Livermore, Ben Gibson and Michael Keane are all worthy of recent call-ups, is Harry Maguire, for example, just at too much of an unfashionable side to get a call up of his own?
It’s a debate which has raged for a number of years now – are Hull City unfairly ignored by the England hierarchy when international squads are selected? During Hull City’s Premier League years, there have been a number of players who, based on sheer form relative to other English players, have deserved their chance to at least be looked at first-hand by England. Players like Michael Turner in 2008, Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone in 2013, Jake Livermore earlier this season while still playing for the Tigers, and Harry Maguire this season have all been mentioned, but have never made the cut.
Granted, during the eras when Turner, Davies and Huddlestone were being touted as possible England internationals the England set-up was far stronger, with a much higher level of quality in nearly every position. However, with Jake Livermore’s recent call-up, and start, for England just two months after leaving the club for West Brom, as well as Harry Maguire’s omission in favour of Keane and Gibson, there is really no wonder Hull City fans believe the fact these players ply their trade in Hull may have something to do with their exclusion.
Indeed, simply looking at the facts suggests this is the case. Take Livermore for example. Prior to starting for Gareth Southgate’s new look England against Germany on Wednesday night the midfielder had only made seven appearances for his new club West Brom since arriving at the Hawthorns in January. While I admit the central midfielder has played well during this time, it would certainly be fair to assume his call-up is also based on a number of Livermore’s performances earlier this season while at Hull City which were viewed by Southgate and his scouts. However, I would have been shocked if Livermore had made this England squad had he not been sold to the Baggies in January.
Selection to the England international squad appears to consist of picking the English talent available in the top six sides of the Premier League. When injuries or simply lack of numbers gets in the way of this system, England managers appear to simply look down the Premier League table and look for English players who are representing over-achieving teams in that specific season. Don’t get me wrong, I rate Livermore highly, however, there is no question in my mind that if he was still a Hull City player, and not playing for an 8th position West Brom side, there is no way he would have made Southgate’s squad this month.
While I accept, with Livermore no longer a Hull City player, there are very few in the current Tigers’ squad who could realistically expect England to come calling. Dawson’s international days are certainly behind him, while both Huddlestone and Davies look unlikely to ever represent their country again. However, with both Gary Cahill – who is suspended – and the injured Chris Smalling leaving the England camp following Wednesday’s match in Dortmund, speculation returned that City’s Harry Maguire might be one of two replacements called up before tomorrow’s qualifier against Lithuania. However, surprise, surprise, Southgate only chose to bring in one replacement – Ben Gibson of his former side Middlesbrough.
It is very hard not to sound bitter and cynical as a Hull City fan writing about an issue like this. However, the most frustrating, and painfully predictable, fact of the matter is this – despite being Hull City’s brightest light this season, and one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League over the past few months, if, if not when, Hull City are relegated at the end of the season, Maguire will get his move to a respectable and established Premier League side and will immediately make the England squad. And why? Well, not only because he is a quality player in an era of mediocre English defenders, but also because he will no longer be playing for unfashionable and overlooked Hull City AFC.