Daniel Sturridge easing into pole position for a Euro 2012 spot
Considering the wealth of talent Roberto Mancini has at his disposal, with a concession that his side made a mistake in letting Daniel Sturridge leave back in 2009, he directed a compliment of the highest order the way of the Chelsea striker.
Sturridge’s opener in his side’s 1-1 draw against Wigan elevated him to Chelsea’s Premier League leading scorer this season with eight goals, a statistic that speaks volumes in Andre Villas-Boas’ turbulent Stamford Bridge induction. It must also be music to the ears of England manager Fabio Capello, who continues to grapple with the options available to him as he attempts to fill a void, created by Wayne Rooney’s forthcoming suspension at the European Championships. Before the latter’s dismissal in Podgorica had even begun to sink-in, commentators begun the discussion of how Capello would compensate for the Manchester United star’s absence, as a host of names – including Sturridge – were fully dissected for means of resolution.
The likes of Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe and even the underwhelming Andy Carroll are suggested solutions to Capello’s most unwanted problem, so this season is critical to all the aforementioned supporting cast. Sturridge’s case is one of intrigue as he plays for the most part this season in what he argues as ‘out of position’ on the right of Chelsea’s attacking trio, but nevertheless, his scoring record surely demeans such a personal gripe.
Villas-Boas declared back in August that Sturridge will not merely be deployed as a stop-gap right-winger, it was a conscious decision bred from an appreciation of the ex-Sky Blue’s direct and controlled approach. Going on current form, an England squad inclusion appears more in Sturridge’s hands than ever, as he is the only striker from those mentioned who are both playing and scoring regularly. However, when handed his international debut in November against Sweden at Wembley – again wide-right - his demeanour was non-plussed, a unconstructive characteristic he must abstain.
If he can dispel the notion of an unwillingness to play wide of a central counterpart, then a place in England’s squad is surely his to squander. Furthermore, he is the only candidate who is still undergoing the ultimate self-improvement by testing himself against Europe’s elite in the Champions League, a factor that should also positively effect Capello’s stance. While much hinders on the formations the latter adopts for his side’s Poland and Ukraine adventure, Sturridge’s versatility should certainly make a connection with Capello’s selection requirements.
If Sturridge can accept what both his club and international managers envisage for him then his future within both landscapes is incandescent, starting with an inaugural senior international tournament, at just 22-years-old. As we approach the halfway point of the season, and if his prosperity in front of goal also continues, it will be hard for the England manager to ignore him. Essentially, while his striking contemporaries across the top-flight struggle for both games and goals, seemingly, Sturridge continues to ease himself into pole position for a Euro 2012 berth.
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