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Capello faces tough call on final 23

May 13, 2010

Adam Johnson has had a superb first season at Eastlands, but does he merit a place in Fabio's final squad?

The countdown is on until the World Cup finals in South Africa, and together with the customary excitement and expectation of every England supporter comes Fabio Capello’s final squad announcement before the big kickoff, and there are still a few unanswered questions.

The main talking points would be the inclusion of Jamie Carragher and Adam Johnson in England’s provision 30-man squad. Whilst the former has called an end to his International exile, Johnson has experienced his first senior team call up, something the Manchester City winger will be looking to make more of a habit of in the future. Johnson’s fantastic run of form has earned him a well deserved opportunity in the National side, and it can’t be argued that his move to Eastlands has been the catalyst for this bright talent’s enigmatic displays.

A big money move from Championship underachievers Middlesbrough may have put too much pressure on the 22-year old, but he’s thrived under the expectation of such a hefty price tag. His efforts for ‘boro (big rivals to his hometown club Sunderland) didn’t go unnoticed amongst the Premier League’s big names, and City beat both Chelsea and Arsenal to his signature, which says a lot about the nature of the Premier League these days. However, Johnson is determined to prove his worth to City, and a dip into South African waters this summer will doubtless do just that. It may also pencil him in for a regular England place for the European Championship qualifiers that come later this year.

As for Carragher, he was cast aside under Steve McClaren, and decided to hang up his boots on the national side. His performances for Liverpool this season have been unusually uncharacteristic, and he will be the first to admit that he wouldn’t place himself amongst the forerunners to start England’s first game of the tournament on June 12. Nevertheless, Capello clearly has faith and confidence in him, and judging on the form of Matthew Upson and John Terry in recent months, you could do worse than Carra.

Perhaps the pace of some of the tournament’s hitmen – the likes of Messi, Robinho and Torres – may leave Carragher vulnerable to exposure, but when it comes to committment and experience, there’s few the fit the category as accurately as he does. Terry’s also had his problems with pace recently, and Upson is no Usain Bolt himself. Rio Ferdinand’s regular injury worries may also cast a doubt over his fitness, which could mean either Michael Dawson or Ledley King will be lining up to take on USA in Rustenburg.

With the revelation that is Johnson rapidly appearing on the scene, Joe Cole may be fearing for his place, particularly as his matchtime adds up to nowhere near as much as his left-sided counterpart. Cole’s been a fantastic player for England in the past, but right from his first day in office, Capello has stated that in order to get into the England team, you have to be playing day in, day out, something that Cole has been unable to do. However, with Cole’s skill and trickery, and the experience of major competitions with both England and Chelsea, he should be on the plane along with Johnson.

Another problem area for me is in attack. Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, and Jermain Defoe are shoe-ins, which leaves a battle between Emile Heskey and Darren Bent for the final striker’s slot. Heskey’s International goalscoring record leaves plenty to be desired, but Capello is a big fan of his muscular presence in attack, and believes he is a perfect foil for Rooney. However, you cannot ignore a man who has ended up as the Premier League’s 3rd top scorer, and that for a club that finished 13th in the table. Surely one giant is enough, and Crouch’s goalscoring ability is far greater than Heskey’s. Goalscorers are what you need to win trophies, and Bent possesses just that skill. So for me, it’s Bent ahead of Heskey.

Finally, does Theo Walcott go or doesn’t he? Everybody has their doubts about Walcott, and this season has been somewhat disappointing for the so-called ‘wonderkid’. He has his moments of magic, there’s no doubt about that, and perhaps that could prove the difference in a tight quarter-final match against a France, or a Brazil. But is that enough? Defensive prowess – Poor. Work rate – average. Influence – Inconsistent. It would be a gamble, and I think there are better options out there. However, I have a feeling he’ll get the nod over Shaun Wright-Phillips, and it’s probable that he’ll be making his 2nd World Cup squad at the age of just 21.

Enjoy the read? Check out my blog for all my articles: http://article2010.blogspot.com/

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 15, 2010 6:55 pm

    Capello does indeed have a tough choice to make, as Rio is still suffering from his back, and since this is the world cup, he should go for experience at the back just to keep things safe, as we all know that english keepers are not the best of the world…
    Adam Johnson had a great season with City, but to include him in the final list would make me at least thing more than twice, since for me he seems to lack the standards for this world cup, may be he will fit in the squad in the next one… As for some of the other players mentioned, they too have their pros and cons, but Capello is the one in the end to make his list, and if he deems them proper so be it, just look at France, where the coach excluded players like Benzema and Nasri…

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