By Ben Cripps
It’s been a very long time coming, but finally, Fabian Delph has received the England call-up that Villa fans have long desired , as he became Villa’s 72nd England International in a 1-0 win over Norway.
After having his best season in a Villa shirt last season, you can only assume the main reasons that he has been overlooked for so long is simply because he was playing in a struggling team and not for a more ‘high-profile’ a top 4 club ( little ironic that with Villa currently occupying a top 4 spot in the league, Delph suddenly got his England debut ).
Of course, the international retirements from the England midfield of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have helped Delph’s cause, but previously he was overlooked for the likes of Tom Cleverley and Andros Townsend.
It only seems right that Tom Cleverley gets a mention, the man to have joined the ranks at Villa Park for at least the next seven months or so, the former United player could now become an integral part of the Villa midfield alongside our number 16. Perhaps the combination will thrive and they will both be able to force themselves into the thick of the international action, we will have to wait and see what Cleverley provides us with.
Anyway, at a half-empty Wembley Stadium, the claret and blue faithful had been through over 60 minutes of dire, tedious international football, waiting eagerly in anticipation of the arrival of our midfield maestro. Our eyes lit up as we saw him rise from the bench and he approached the touch line, accompanied by James Milner, the man whose career path has evidently plummeted since departing Villa Park for the supposed glorious heights of Manchester, and on he came, to make his debut at the age of 24, having previously contributed so greatly at youth level.
Suddenly, the game became a spectacle, as the 2013/14 Villa player of the season took the place of the uninspiring Jack Wilshere and slotted into the centre of midfield.
It looked as if our man had been given slightly more freedom than Wilshere, as he was encouraged to get forward, as well as also slotting in and very tidily keeping possession in front of the English defence.
It is probably worth noting that he had the highest pass success percentage of any England player (94%). It was a tidy, almost flawless debut from Delph, he kept the ball brilliantly and sprayed the passes out of the centre of midfield to release the likes of Sterling and Sturridge, whilst always seemingly available off the ball.
I’m sure, along with mine, Villa hearts were in mouths every time he got in the ball, not because we doubted his capabilities, but because we all naturally feared the worst for him. He didn’t let us down, a confident cameo appearance to start off his international career that has been so fully deserved over the last couple of seasons, especially after his run of injuries at the start of his Villa career.
All we can hope now is that Paul Lambert gets himself into gear and sorts out the new contract, and that pen is put to paper, which, given the recent words of Delph who showed his eagerness for a new contract, shouldn’t be an issue if the money is right.
I think we can all express our pride and also excitement to see Delph in the three lions shirt, it has been a while since we have seen a Villan in the international set-up, as gone are the days of seeing the likes of Young, Barry and Milner and recognising them as one of our own.
Surely, surely, Roy cannot let Delph slip away from the England picture now, as it was so clear to see that he was having a great positive effect on the way that England played and added an extra dimension of pace and guile that the previous combinations including Gerrard and Lampard, were clearly lacking in.
May the international career of Fabian Delph be a long and prosperous one as a Villa player. UTV.
Follow Ben on Twitter – @BenCripps19
Fabian Delph Interview with the FA while on International duty