England Euro 2012 squad analysis - Goalkeepers and defenders
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole
When Roy Hodgson was appointed as the England manager just over two weeks ago, it was already obvious to many that his most difficult decision in terms of selecting a squad for Euro 2012 would be who to pick in defence. Many of his problems will have originated from the names of two players - Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
The ageing Ferdinand has enjoyed a good season with Manchester United, playing a key role in defence despite the absence of his regular centre-back partner Nemanja Vidic. Ferdinand has also proved his fitness this term, making 29 Premier League starts for the Red Devils - only Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney were selected in the starting XI more often.
Meanwhile, Terry has also been excellent for Chelsea this campaign. The former England captain is hugely popular at Stamford Bridge, thanks to his defensive capabilities and leadership skills. Terry will miss the Champions League final through suspension, but that should not tarnish what has been another good season for him in a Blue shirt.
So what is the problem? Why not pick both? The answer is that Terry was charged over his alleged comments towards Rio’s brother, Anton, earlier this season. Recent headlines have suggested that Hodgson wanted to leave one or the other out in order to avoid any complications or issues at the tournament. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, he missed out, while Hodgson insists the decision was purely a football one.
The other main bone of contention is the absence of Micah Richards from the 23-man list. The Manchester City defender has earned much praise for his performances this season, though Roberto Mancini did favour Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta to Richards for the final games of the campaign. By overlooking Richards, Hodgson has indicated that he does not trust the player enough to take him to an international tournament at this stage.
Former England boss Fabio Capello also failed to make good use of Richards during his tenure. With the PFA’s Young Player of the Year, Kyle Walker, missing out through injury, Hodgson has opted for the more experienced Glen Johnson in that position. Versatile youngster Phil Jones will fill in for Johnson if the need arises.
While some in the past have criticised the experienced manager for being too conservative and defensive, Hodgson has responded by selecting seven defenders in his squad rather than the expected eight, with the extra place being taken up by an additional midfielder.
Meanwhile, in the goalkeeping department, it has been obvious for quite some time that Joe Hart will be England’s first-choice stopper at the Euros. Robert Green of West Ham and Norwich City’s John Ruddy will act as his understudies. Hodgson did try to talk his No 1 at West Bromwich Albion, Ben Foster, out of international retirement, but he refused. Scott Carson, a former West Brom goalkeeper, will be disappointed to miss out altogether.
As things stand, Hodgson is almost certain to select Hart, Johnson, Cahill or Lescott, Terry and Cole as his back five for the opening game of the tournament.
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