Becoming a full international is no mean feat.
It isn’t down to how well you play, there are plenty of other variables that affect the decision to call up a player – or there was before Gareth Southgate became England boss.
You had to play for the right team. The majority of the time, if you were playing for an unfashionable club? Even if your talent matched another, if they were plying their trade for a bigsix team then your chances were lower than his.
You also had to play past the reputation factor. Some players had, rightly so, forged a reputation on being the bastion of a position. Of being the main pillar for their club. And it helped carry them toward more caps even when their form was lower than a snake’s belly.
But Southgate seems to be giving plenty of youth players a chance, and some are not regular starters at all. Some just promise plenty, their brief moments on the pitch dazzle and invite thoughts of glory should they be selected.
So, a call up for a certain Robert Holding can’t be far away?
Arsene Wenger’s quote regarding Holding when he was signed still resonates today.
“I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good. We don’t speak about the performances anymore and I think that is not right.”
Because he didn’t hail from a big teams’ youth system. Because he broke through at Bolton while they were languishing. Holding has struggled to be seen in the same light as some players who he is on an even par with.
Michael Keane for example. Keane at Everton has been patchy at best, and a liability at worst. Yet he is continually picked for England.
Harry Maguire has been woeful at times this season. His positioning has really let Utd down at key times this campaign but because he is at Utd and because he scores some big goals, his name is among the first to go in.
Yet in terms of consistency, only James Tarkowski, Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings surpass Holding.
Our very own Roberto Holdinho (at the time of writing) has more starts than David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes for Arsenal this season. That speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded by Arteta. And our defence this season (again, at the time of writing) is the fourth best in the Premiership.
Holding cannot continue to go unnoticed by Southgate. It may require an injury to one of his fellow defenders, but Holding certainly warrants a claim for the squad.
Regardless of if he is picked or not, a contract extension at Arsenal is a symbol of how much we appreciate his service.
That £2.5m looks like the steal of the century to us.