Since I don't want to post two thought-provoking posts in quick succession, I decided to write about which players Fabio Capello might be looking at in the next two months in deciding who should go to the 2010 World Cup for England.
The team selection is not as concrete the last time I had an opportunity to look at the squad. Injuries and loss of form, especially at the back of team, makes the friendly against Egypt in March more likely to feature new faces.
Since David James is currently injured and doesn't look like being certain of the No. 1 jersey, other candidates such as Robert Green and Joe Hart have stepped up to the mike. Hart's recent form for Birmingham City has definitely been impressive, with the Brummies climbing up to the top eight and vying for Europa League spots. Paul Robinson is in the reckoning if James doesn't recover or doesn't haggle a move to Stoke or Tottenham during this transfer window. Also look for Ben Foster angling for a loan move to get some needed first team action. At the moment it looks like Green, Hart and Robinson are going to be called up against Egypt.
With Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand perennially injured, Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge and Joleon Lescott recently crocked and out of form, Capello needs to dig deep into his reserves. Micah Richards looks in line for a call up at right back and if Johnson doesn't recover soon, Capello might have to look further. Tony Hibbert for Everton is out injured, otherwise he may have been given a thought whilst Luke Young has retired and Gary Neville is passed his best form. After those players it looks like scraping the barrel, with Tyrone Mears, Andy Wilkinson, Phil Bardsley and Richard Stearman. It looks slightly rosier at the left back position with Ashley Cole and Stephen Warnock still fit. Leighton Baines could also be called upon if needed. With John Terry likely to partner Matthew Upson if Ferdinand remains on the sidelines, Capello might want to give Gary Cahill a debut as he is increasingly likely to go and hopes for Phil Jaglieka to come back from injury. Don't be surprised if Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Ryan Shawcross or Michael Dawson gets a call up in the March friendly against Egypt if Lescott and Ferdinand don't recover. For March it looks like Johnson, Richards, Brown, Terry, Ferdinand, Upson, Lescott, Cahill, Cole, Bridge and Warnock to be called up but considering half of these defenders are injured or out of form, you could see other names as well.
With Aaron Lennon injured it might be the time for David Beckham, Shaun Wright-Phillips or even Theo Walcott to shine. Also it seems likely Owen Hargreaves is less likely to play football ever again so England will be forced to bring Michael Carrick (shudder). On a slightly more positive note is the form of James Milner in the centre of the park with Ashley Young and Stewart Downing doing well on the wings for Aston Villa, putting them back in the international fold. It may be the Gooner in me but I can't see Tom Huddlestone or Jermaine Jenas getting into the England squad since they don't offer anything defensively or offensively. So see the likes of Beckham, Lennon (if fit), Wright-Phillips, Walcott, Milner, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard (if fit), Carrick, Young and Downing in the squad come March.
I still expect Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey to lead the line but the likes of Jermaine Defoe losing form and Carlton Cole being injured leaves the space open for Peter Crouch, Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor. All six of these strikers could make the selection in six weeks' time.
As the last three months has shown, the loss of form and injuries could allow anybody in. I think the player to look out for in the next few months will be Milner, who has shown adaptability in playing different positions and shown good form.