Rodwell accepts his failings
Jack Rodwell has admitted failing to live up to the hype that saw him linked with Manchester United after losing his place in both the Everton and England Under-21 sides this season.
But the 20-year-old insisted all that is finally behind him as he bids for a recall for his country's second UEFA Under-21 Championship clash with Ukraine tomorrow night. Rodwell has spent the past four years being feted as one of the finest midfield talents of his generation, his performances seeing him repeatedly linked with a big-money move to Old Trafford.
That could still go ahead one day but Rodwell has certainly not increased his reported £20 million transfer value since signing a new contract with Everton just over a year ago. Injuries have blighted his season but he has also been disappointing enough when he has played not to warrant an automatic place for club or country.
"I just stopped still because of one thing and another," said Rodwell. "When I have been out of the team, I haven't been able to get back in. The couple of seasons before that, I had felt as if I had done really well, I'd played in a lot of games and I have tended to play in age groups ahead of the ones I was in."
He added: "I just hope it's finally behind me now and I am looking forward to next season already."
Rodwell revealed how Everton captain Phil Neville had helped him cope with his "frustrating" campaign. "I'm a strong person and when I am not in the team, I can motivate myself to keep focused and be prepared for when I get called on.
"There are a lot of senior pros to look up to. Phil Neville has been great in terms of the pointers he has given me. He's told me what to do and when to do it when I have been injured, how to deal with any frustrations I have had when I have not been picked. It's been great to have him around to get that kind of support."
Despite his form, Rodwell was a surprise omission from his country's European Under-21 Championship opener against Spain on Sunday. But his introduction from the bench helped England snatch a fortuitous 1-1 draw. He said: "I felt good when I came one. I finally feel fresh.
"I've shaken off a lot of injuries this season but I feel good now, mentally and physically. It's not for me to say whether I will get in on Wednesday night but I always want to play so let's hope so, fingers crossed."