Tottenham defender Danny Rose deserves his England chance
Some Tottenham fans were furious when Danny Rose signed a new long-term contract back in 2014.
Rose had been one of the more disastrous elements of Spurs' tragicomic season under Andre Villas-Boas and later Tim Sherwood. It was widely thought he would be sold after Mauricio Pochettino made Ben Davies one of his first signings.
We are delighted to announce that Danny Rose has committed his future to the Club with the signing of a new five-year contract.- Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 31, 2014
But Pochettino had other ideas. "The first meeting I had with a Tottenham player was with him," he revealed last month.
"I was happy and pleased to give him the opportunity to stay here and work with us. My idea from the beginning was to give him the chance to show he has enough quality to play for Tottenham."
Pochettino told Rose he could "make him into one of the league's best," left-backs and an England international. It must have seemed fanciful, even considering Ashley Cole's retirement and Pochettino's record of improving English players at Southampton. Leighton Baines was in his prime and Luke Shaw was about to join Manchester United, while Kieran Gibbs, Jon Flanagan, Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Bertrand were all on the scene.
Within a month of signing the contract, however, Rose was in the England squad, albeit because Shaw and Gibbs were injured. If that call-up was premature, by March 2015 Pochettino felt he had already fulfilled his promise. "We believe that Danny has so far been the best English left-back," he said.
Despite his improvement, Rose had been ignored by Roy Hodgson since his solitary call and he considered playing for Jamaica ahead of the Copa America after admitting he felt "nowhere near" the England squad. He did replace Shaw, again injured, for the matches against Lithuania and Italy in April but picked up an injury of his own and a year later, he is expected to win his first cap in the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Netherlands.
It is not undeserved and long overdue. Harry Kane aside, Rose was Tottenham's player of last season, remaining consistently impressive even as Pochettino's team blew hot and cold. This term, he has reached new heights, kept fresh and motivated by competition from Davies.
Aggressive, strong, quick and good on the ball, Rose is as much a part of the best attack in the Premier League as he is of the best defence.
"He's been absolutely sensational and he's causes the opposition big problems every time he plays," said Cliff Jones, Spurs' double-winning winger.
"Rose is doing exactly the same as what Gareth Bale was doing for Tottenham -- getting down the wing and putting in crosses."
With Baines struggling to be fit for this summer's European Championship, Shaw a doubt following his broken leg and Gibbs underwhelming, Rose is England's best bet at left-back, although there is a case for Cresswell and Hodgson is a Bertrand fan.
Doubts do remain, however. In Spurs' system, Rose is allowed the freedom of the left flank, while Eric Dier drops to form a back three and Jan Vertonghen or Kevin Wimmer, both comfortable at left-back, shift to cover the space.
While Hodgson can also call on Dier, he will ask his full-backs to play more conservatively than Pochettino, particularly if Kane and captain Wayne Rooney are used in tandem up front.
Perhaps unfairly, there are still question marks over Rose's defending too. Rose's concentration and decision-making were particularly poor pre-Pochettino and these will come under more scrutiny for England, who should enjoy less possession against the European elite than Spurs are used to.
His final ball remains occasionally erratic, while he lacks international experience compared to Baines, who has 30 caps, and even Gibbs (10) and Bertrand (7).
Should Baines prove his fitness, Rose faces a battle with Bertrand and Cresswell for the other left-back spot in Hodgson's 23-man Euro 2016 squad. If he can replicate his club form against world champions Germany on Saturday, he will go some way to securing his place in the squad.
His displays this season, especially in Spurs' landmark 2-1 win at Manchester City, suggest he is a man for the big occasion.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.