With yesterday’s news of the significant omissions from the Europa League squad, and the extensive implications for the likes of (reportedly leaving) Andy Halliday and Joe Dodoo who have been excluded from the submitted list, most fans have been processing the likely departures as a result of these absences.
However, a further nugget of curiosity has to be the three supposedly out-of-favour and surplus players who are most definitely included in the squad, and who may have received something of a reprieve as a result.
Lee Hodson, Martyn Waghorn and Josh Windass all find themselves included in the list for the Progres clash on Thursday, despite Hodson being fringe, Waghorn being derided, and Windass being subject to interest from English Championship side Hull.
These are three players who were strongly expected to leave, with Lee Hodson rarely getting a significant run in the team while Waghorn has seen his competition increased with the arrivals of Dalcio, Herrera and Candeias. Yet he has been included in the squad; the possible small print of this is that Daniel Candeias is not in the squad as his paperwork was not completed in time, so it is feasible Waghorn is covering for that over these two legs.
Equally Hodson might be included on the basis of Forest’s bid for first-pick James Tavernier, a bid expected to increase this week and which the player is ‘considering’.
But Windass’ inclusion in light of all the attacking talent signed this summer is certainly intriguing and there are no underlying agendas we can posit to explain why he is selected other than his manager rating him.
But even in the cases of Waghorn and Hodson, their inclusions in the list does bode slightly more promisingly for their chances of remaining at Ibrox despite all the speculation, and while Hodson is surely capable enough to cope with the SPL, if Waghorn can raise his game in light of the improved squad around him, perhaps it is some fine management from Pedro Caixinha.
Of course it could all be down to the numbers, and the regulations – there are age and association-trained restrictions on Uefa squads, and these three being included may be to accommodate that – but you never know; Lee Hodson, Martyn Waghorn and Josh Windass could yet be important squad members for next season after all.