The last Reading FC player to score ten goals in the Premiership was Dave Kitson during the ill fated 07/08 season. Current Reading manager Brian McDermott recently explained how he thought Kitson was “unlucky not to have got an England cap.” Today Adam Le Fondre has ten Premier League goals to his name for the season. McDermott has now said he can’t see “any reason why (Le Fondre) can’t play for his country.” Is McDermott right? Should Adam Le Fondre be playing for England?
Initially the reaction is to say “No, don’t be stupid.” Which is fair, a player that doesn’t even play regularly for a weak Premiership team shouldn’t be leading the line for the nation. And like Dave Kitson before him, it might just be a flash in the pan bit of form that gave players such as David Nugent and Michael Ricketts underserved call-ups before. Yet if you give it a bit more thought, maybe it isn’t so stupid after all.
Playing for England may be the peak of a footballers career but the international stage isn’t the pinnacle of football. Le Fondre has scored for Reading against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea already this season. If he can score against them surely he can score against Poland, Moldova and Montenegro? Peter Crouch, an average Premiership player proved that international goals are easier to come by than Premier League ones.
But even if Le Fondre could score against international teams should he be in ahead of other English strikers? Perhaps. Obviously Wayne Rooney gets in ahead of him but apart from that are other strikers that much better? Jermaine Defoe has scored the same amount of goals but Le Fondre reached double figures in half the amount of playing time. Danny Welbeck has scored one goal with around the same number of minutes on the pitch as Le Fondre but that is for Manchester United, not a struggling limited side. These players are on the books for better teams than Reading FC but Le Fondre would surely be even more prolific with real quality behind him. Surely it is worth finding out?
Shouldn’t form and goals be rewarded with an international cap anyway? If Ricky Lambert and Adam Le Fondre are the highest scoring English strikers they should get a call up. Both have shown themselves to be proven goal scorers, something every team in the world needs. Wayne Rooney may be supremely talented but England hasn’t had a real goal scorer in the side since Michael Owen. Lambert and Le Fondre deserve a chance in a friendly at the very least. What can Roy Hodgson learn from Welbeck or Defoe playing another game?
Some players might be daunted by the international stage. Yet I doubt this would be the case for the Reading forward. Le Fondre has huge self-belief. Now that may not work for Nicklas Bendtner but it seems to for Le Fondre. Back when Reading won a penalty against West Brom back in January, the West Brom keeper walked up to Le Fondre and asked him “Where do you normally put your penalties?”
Le Fondre replied “In the back of the net.” and then duly sent Foster the wrong way.
It’s not just on the pitch he radiates self confidence, in interviews he has referred to himself as a “fox in the box”, “deadly” and that Reading signing him was a “good bit of business.” He’s put his money where his mouth is and delivered the goods. England needs someone who will put chances away and they have that person. You just have to hope Hodgson is smart enough to notice or daring enough to take a punt. If he does, I hope he takes Rickie Lambert along too.