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who’s on your proverbial plane? (part 1)

October 15, 2009

England vs. Belarus
First of all, apologies for missing my usual Wednesday post yesterday. I’ve been full of cold for the past few days and the goo-filled drudgery of my current existence makes each day blur into the next and I lost track. To make up for it, today we have the first of a two part post, the second will come next week on my usual Wednesday slot. Enjoy! – Adam.

With European qualification for next year’s World Cup all over bar the playoffs, attention can finally turn in earnest to the preparations for the tournament proper. And after Capello’s ‘alternative’ England side triumphed over Belarus last night, does the Italian have some decisions to make regarding the makeup of his thirty-two man squad?

While a portion of the squad are already guaranteed a place in the squad next summer, injury permitting, there’s plenty of room for the players on the fringes of Capello’s lineup to attempt to win one of the coveted berths. Here I’ll take a look at those outsiders and suggest who, at this moment, would be in my England squad for South Africa.

First things first then, the players who will, without question be in South Africa if fit are:
> Defenders: John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson.
> Midfielders: Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry.
> Strikers: Wayne Rooney.
Amongst the rest there are certainly some strong candidates, but with plenty of football to be played then and now, no one can be certain of their ticket just yet.

Today then, I’ll be looking at England’s Goalkeeping and Defensive options, and next week completing the analysis with a look at midfield and attack. Please feel free to weigh in with your own suggestions and comments!

The number one jersey is also Capello’s number one cause for concern as he looks to build a World Cup winning side. While blessed with plenty of quality in most other departments, England lack a world class goalkeeper and the Italian knows he must simply pick the best of an average bunch.

David James looked to be Capello’s first choice when he initially took over but thanks to a succession of injuries and the continuation of the inconsistencies that have plagued him throught his career, Fabio may be having second thoughts. Though he performed well in the Ukraine he picked up a fresh niggle that ruled him out of the Belarus fixture and with his body clearly feeling it’s age, Capello could be right to doubt.

Rob Green is who I think Capello would now prefer to see in goal for England. I suggested last week that he who donned the gloves against Ukraine would have the advantage and though Green played only a brief part in that fixture, the sending off wasn’t his fault and I think Capello rates him as a ‘keeper. He’s solid at club level for West Ham and is more reliable physically than James, and although he does lack the undeniable quality James sometimes brings, he at least doesn’t make too many mistakes.

Ben Foster must be wondering what he’s done for things to go so wrong for him. In his time at Watford he was tipped as a future world-beater and his move to United seemed to confirm that. Unfortunately, Ferguson seemed intent on stunting his progress by giving him limited opportunities and seems to have succeeded – England’s ‘bright young thing’ is now a relatively mature 26 but has no commanding presence between the sticks and his error prone season so far smacks of big game nerves. There’s no doubting his potential, but I wonder if he can fulfill it in time for the World Cup and whether Capello will give him chance to prove himself.

Paul Robinson was quite unfairly scapegoated for England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and hasn’t looked the same ‘keeper since. While never a top class stopper, he was usually a safe bet between the sticks and looks to be recovering his confidence now at Blackburn. Capello seemed to be willing to give him a chance when he was called up to this latest squad, but he pulled out through injury and I now see him very much as an outsider, unlikely to get another chance to prove himself.

Joe Hart should go to the World Cup in my opinion. Though probably not ready to be England’s number one yet, the third ‘keeper in any World Cup squad is very rarely anything but a spectator and I think it would be a good experience for the young ex-Shrewsbury man to get familiar with the pressure of a World Cup campaign as I’ve little doubt that he will be England’s first choice ‘keeper in a year or two. Capello is an admirer of Hart I feel, encouraged by under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, but I don’t know if he’d be so willing to take him along for ‘the experience’.

Capello’s back four at the World Cup will, form permitting, already be decided. His main concern here is deciding who he should take as cover, particularly for the full back positions where England don’t have too many options. Central cover is plentiful, but Capello will think long and hard over which of these options will be most useful to him.

At right back Glen Johnson is about the only option and despite his defensive inadequcies will start. As cover, it seems that Wes Brown is Capello’s current choice with his versatility playing into his hands too. Still, I’m not convinced that he’s good enough for Man Utd, never mind England and I wonder how much football he’ll get between now an the start of the World Cup. If an alternative should arise, Capello will be tempted, but it could be a big if.

At left back, Ashley Cole is a dead cert, and Wayne Bridge looks quite comfortable in his support role – a little too comfortable if you ask me. He’s never exactly shone on the international stage and has yet to really find top form for City, it seems as if his years warming the bench at Chelsea turned him a little stale. I’d quite like to see Leighton Baines given a chance to prove himself in an upcoming friendly as he’s had a storming last year and a half for Everton and really looks a top wing back to me.

Centre back options abound and if Rio’s form doesn’t pick up, Capello may be looking for cover. I feel that Matthew Upson is too similar to John Terry to form an effective partner for the skipper though and while certainly a great prospect for the future, Gary Cahill is still proving himself. He’s certainly on top form for Bolton at present but whether he really has the experience and quality for a World Cup, I’m not so sure.

Joleon Lescott looked certain to be in South Africa right up until he upset the apple cart in demanding a move to Man City. He’s yet to find his form for his new club and the time that that takes will see him slipping down the pecking order. While a good player, I think he’s blown his chance. In fact, the best option as defensive cover in my mind would be Phil Jagielka, IF he can regain form and fitness in time. He’s as close to Ferdinand as we have, combining pace and great positional ability and a crunching tackle. What’s more, he can also cover right back and, at a push, defensive mid. Maybe Wes Brown’s not needed after all?

So who’s on my plane to South Africa?
Well, if I were Capello, the defensive half of my squad would look like this:

Rob Green (first choice), David James, Joe Hart.
John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Matthew Upson, Leighton Baines.

I may also add another defender when I’ve considered the midfielders/forwards next week. For now though, what are everyone elses thoughts on the England squad? Who would you take to South Africa?

Like this? Plenty more where that came from at They Think It’s All Over…

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2009 11:52 am

    ive edited the pic for you

    GK wise..think it will be James, Green and Foster, tho if Robinson has a great season he will push hard

    Baines and Jags have no chance im afraid..not unless Everton have their best season ever. The back four is settled as Johnson, Rio, JT and Cashley Mole. Wes Brown always seems to find his way into squads so i think he will go. If he finds form i think Lescott will go but currently he is behind Upson. Wayne Bridge is pretty much nailed on to go as left back cover.

    I also think the ability of Hargreaves and Barry to play full back could effect selections for the squad, and we saw Milner slot into there last night. However, i think Lescott will come good..he is also a genuine goal threat from set pieces. Jags would have pushed hard had he not had the injury..bit of bad luck for him

    so its James, Foster, Green, ColeA, Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Upson, Bridge, Brown at the mo.

    • October 15, 2009 8:24 pm

      Hargreaves comeback will be good cover defensively for both England and United.

  2. maserati4200 permalink
    October 15, 2009 4:17 pm

    Wes Brown is not an international defender.

    • October 15, 2009 5:28 pm

      its strange maserati but all the England managers he has played for love him. He is not even in the United side yet Capello still thinks hes the bees knees

      On his day he is outstanding, but he aint great to just chuck in…always needs a few games to get warmed up. Dont be surprised though if he ends up as Fergie’s first choice right back by the end of the season..he was immense in 2007-8

      • maserati4200 permalink
        October 15, 2009 5:41 pm

        I’m sure Wes Brown will do a good job for Man United this season. But a World Cup is a very different matter.

        I’m concerned about the strength in depth of the England squad. I can only see 15 to 16 players who are up to it. The rest are not.

        About 9 months to go and lots of potential for injuries etc.

  3. maserati4200 permalink
    October 15, 2009 5:17 pm


    Anybody with a beard like Beckham should be banned for life!

    • October 15, 2009 8:23 pm

      The beard was just a little too long!

      He said he hadn’t time to shave…bless him!


  1. WDKF Thursday: Who’s on your proverbial plane? (Part One) « They Think It's All Over…
  2. who’s on your proverbial plane? (part 2) « WDKF | Qualified Football Arm Chair Managers Slash Pundits

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