In the end it proved to be a bitter-sweet moment for Canary keeper John Ruddy as new England chief Roy Hodgson announced his squad for this summer’s Euro2012 campaign.
The Canary keeper was in; he will be on the plane for Poland and the Ukraine.
But, alas, there was no place for his skipper Grant Holt. Liverpool’s Andy Carroll got the ‘big man’ gig. The 23-year-old has, after all, scored four Premier League goals this season.
In fairness, it is four more than his Anfield team-mate Stewart Downing has scored in the top flight this season since his £20 million switch to Merseyside last summer. He too, however, found his way into Hodgson’s thoughts ahead of the luckless Holt.
For Ruddy it is rightful reward for an outstanding season recognised again on Monday night as the 25-year-old picked up the Players Player of the Year award at the club’s annual end-of-season dinner.
He even gets a special dispensation off the FA to attend his own wedding. England face Belgium on June 2nd in their final warm-up game. The international new-boy has, however, been told that he can still get to the church on time to marry his long-time partner Laura; ex-Canary Robert Green can cover for No1 Joe Hart as the Ruddys tie the knot with a host of his Canary team-mates likely to be in attendance.
To have had to cancel would have been ‘a nightmare’, admitted the Norwich No1, as his season simply got better and better.
“It’s a real honour for me and hopefully it’s an indication as to how far I have developed as a player,” he told the club’s official website this afternoon, as news of his inclusion broke.
“Playing for my country has been a dream of mine, of course it has,” he added. “But I’m under no illusions as to the quality of Joe Hart and Rob Green – and that I will be number three keeper. But I’m really looking forward to training with them and getting down to some hard work.”
Whether he is the No3 in the pecking order remains to be seen.
The fact that Holt wasn’t completing his remarkable journey from the Unibond League to the Ukraine took a little of the shine off today’s news.
Speaking after Sunday’s final home game of the season against Aston Villa, Ruddy clearly felt that Holt’s goal-scoring record in the Premier League this season should have spoken for itself as the 31-year-old finished his first campaign in the top flight as the second-highest English goal-scorer after Wayne Rooney.
Who, of course, is suspended for the first two games of the tournament.
“If it’s done on merit then Holty should be there as well,” was Ruddy’s opinion. Alas it wasn’t shared elsewhere; Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer put Peter Crouch ahead of Holt on Sunday evening. He, too, didn’t win favour. Carroll is the man upon whose shoulders England’s hopes will rest in Rooney’s absence.
“People said that Holty couldn’t do it in The Championship – and he proved them wrong,” added Ruddy, warming to his theme after his skipper finished his first season in the top flight with 15 Premier League goals – two more than Mario Balotelli and Papiss Cisse, for example.
“And then he’s taken another massive step up this year and has looked like he’s been playing in the Premier League for the last three or four years.
“As to what he’d bring to a team, he’d bring goals – that speaks for itself. And he’s a handful. I think if you spoke to any defender in the Premier League who they didn’t like coming up against and he’d probably be in their top three.
“He’ll harass people, bully people and that’s probably something that England have been lacking since Shearer and Sheringham.”
It was an appeal that fell on deaf ears as Hodgson turned to Merseyside for volunteers.
Given that the Republic of Ireland also decided that they could afford to be without the services of Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington this summer, Canary fans may find themselves putting club well before country as Euro2012 battle unfolds.
England squad: Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy; Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, John Terry; Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young; Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.
Standby: Jack Butland, Phil Jagielka, Jordan Henderson, Adam Johnson, Daniel Sturridg