Sunday, September 20, 2009

England's World Cup squad

The website Football 365 has a very good article about which players should be in England's World Cup squad for South Africa 2010. Although I generally agree with the article overall, I don't think the selection criteria should be in the form of a ladder. I think most coaches when picking a squad will select by position rather than the quality of their players. So here is my view of who might be going.

Goalkeeper (number of places: 3)
On the plane: David James, Robert Green
In contention: Ben Foster, Paul Robinson, Joe Hart
Only if swine flu breaks out: Chris Kirkland, Scott Carson

David James, despite playing for the English Premier League's bottom club Portsmouth, is still the best English goalkeeper by a mile. His absence has proven this point. The only problem is will Capello continue to pick him if Portsmouth still play as they are. With James's absence, Green has been deputizing admirably and seem to be the second choice.

The third goalkeeper spot is up for grabs. At the moment Ben Foster is taking his chances. Much will depend when Edwin van der Saar comes back to takes his place in the Manchester United goal with Ben Foster reverting back to benchwarmer. Paul Robinson brings experience but I think his England days are past him. It might be better to bring a young pair of hands to get the experience.

Right-back (2)
On the plane: Glen Johnson,
In contention: Wes Brown, Micah Richards
Only if swine flu breaks out: Luke Young, Gary Neville

Although his defending capabilities will be exposed against better opposition, Glen Johnson is currently England's top right-back. He has the ability to go forward and deliver crosses. With that in mind, the back-up will probably be a bit more defensive minded. This is probably why I put Brown ahead of Richards. Both are capable of playing in the centre of defence as well, which will bode well for Capello as he might not take four specialist centre-backs, but Brown has better defending qualities and big match experience compared to Richards. The only problem for Brown is that he is not playing regularly for Manchester United. Yet Gary Neville was called up to the England squad over the summer despite playing very few matches for his club, so Brown still has some hope.

Left-back (2)
On the plane: Ashley Cole, Wayne Bridge
In contention: Leighton Baines, Stephen Warnock
Only if swine flu breaks out: Nicky Shorey, Paul Konchesky

Probably the most secure and undramatic position in the England squad. Cole and Bridge have been the mainstay left sided defenders since the beginning of this millenium. Although the likes of Shorey have gained a couple of caps in their absence, it will be definitely those two on the plane to South Africa this summer.

Centre-back (3-4)
On the plane: Rio Ferdinand, John Terry
In contention: Matthew Upson, Joleon Lescott
Only if swine flu breaks out: Phil Jaglieka, Gary Cahill, Curtis Davies

Rio Ferdinand and John Terry will definitely be starting for England during the World Cup but the most definite issue is who will be deputizing for them. In recent games when one or the other has been out injured, Matthew Upson has been filling their boots. Yet he is not world class. Joleon Lescott is the only other real contender but he has floundered when put in an England shirt. With England having already qualified for the World Cup, Capello might want to use the two remaining qualifying games as a chance to see Lescott and Upson under real pressure. Cahill & Davies have been called up but I don't think Capello will be bringing uncapped centre-backs to play against the likes of Brazil and Spain. Jaglieka is currently injured but has shown he is capable of playing in the big leagues and his versatility will also prove to be an useful asset.

Right-midfield (2)
On the plane:
In contention: Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, David Beckham, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips
Only if swine flu breaks out: Leon Osman, David Bentley

Probably the most open position to be filled by Fabio Capello. No player is a definite in this position. Currently with his league form and recent displays for England, Aaron Lennon will be filling the right of midfield. Theo Walcott has been played the most as right winger by Capello plus he can pushed further upfield if required. Milner has the ability to play across the whole midfield and up front. Beckham has been a great impact substitute for England in the past year and can play in the centre is the dubbed "quarterback" role if required. This is why SWP is so low down in the thinking. Although he is a good player, can Capello afford to bring a specialist right winger who isn't that world class?

Left midfield (2)
On the plane:
In contention: Ashley Young
Only if swine flu breaks out: Stewart Downing, Joe Cole, Matthew Taylor

With Steven Gerrard starting on the left and Milner deputizing, I doubt anybody can push their way through to be on the plane bound for South Africa. Ashley Young has to have an outstanding season to even be considered for the squad. The likes of Downing and Cole have to get of the treatment table and on to the field before even thinking about World Cup places

Centre midfield (4-5)
On the plane: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry
In contention: Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick
Only if swine flu breaks out: Scott Parker, Jermaine Jenas

With Gerrard, Lampard & Barry dead cert on going to South Africa, only one or two places are really up for contention. Even though Gerrard will most likely be playing on the left and free up a spot, I think Beckham will be picked as a third right midfielder to cover both right and centre midfield. Currently Michael Carrick is filling the spot but I don't think he will be testing the likes of Argentina and Holland. Capello will be hoping Hargreaves can get fit soon and have a decent season for Manchester United, as his defensive prowess, passing ability and versatility makes the most ideal holding midfielder, even better than Barry. I don't think Capello will bring three holding midfielders in the likes of Barry, Hargreaves or Carrick as he will want to leave the fifth centre-midfielder (if takes that many) to be more attacking.

Forwards (4-5)
On the plane: Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Jermaine Defoe
In contention: Carlton Cole, Peter Crouch
Only if swine flu breaks out: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Darren Bent, Dean Ashton

It is most like Rooney and Heskey will start with Defoe coming off the bench. This leaves one more big striker to fill the post. Currently it is a straight fight between Cole and Crouch with the West Ham United player having the edge. Although Crouch is reasonable in the air, he likes the ball at his feet unlike Carlton Cole who can be a target man just like Heskey.

Current prediction
Goalkeeper: James, Green, Foster
Right back: Johnson, Brown
Left back: A. Cole, Bridge
Centre back: Terry, Ferdinand, Upson
Right midfield: Lennon, Walcott
Centre midfield: Lampard, Barry, Beckham, Hargreaves*
Left midfield: Gerrard, Milner, Young
Forward: Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, C. Cole

* If fit, otherwise Carrick
On standby: Robinson, Richards, Carrick, Crouch

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