Dawson to solve England’s defensive dilemma

Once the domestic leagues across England reach a climax and the movers and shakers from various divisions are decided, the four-year wait will be over and the nation will once again unite as one and turn its attentions to England’s bid for 2010 World Cup glory – a trophy that has eluded them for the past 44 years. In the meantime, Fabio Capello will be working on decisions to finalise the squad that will travel to South Africa and the centre of defence seems to be giving the Italian plenty of selection headaches.

Tottenham’s Michael Dawson has been one of the stand-out performers in the Premier League this season, helping to turn a back-line that has been extremely fragile in recent years into a formidable defensive unit that is currently striding towards a Champions League spot for next season. Having started the current campaign out of favour at White Hart Lane, Dawson returned to the starting line-up on November 22 last year for the famous 9-1 drumming of Wigan Athletic. Since then, the 26-year-old has missed just one out of 22 Premier League games, and playing the full 90 minutes in 20 matches. During this time, Tottenham have lost just four games and conceded 17 goals, a record that only Manchester United and Liverpool can better. At White Hart Lane, they have lost one from twelve, conceding just six goals and recording six clean sheets.

Impressive stats that suggest Dawson and co in the Tottenham defence have enjoyed a superb season so far, but it is Dawson’s form in particular that has been eye-catching, coping admirably with the fact he rarely plays consecutive games with the same partner due to Ledley King’s persistent injury problems. Dawson began to catch the eye of numerous football pundits back in March and was considered a certainty to make the squad that would face Egypt in an international friendly. Much to the shock of many, including Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, Dawson was left out in favour of Stoke City youngster Ryan Shawcross. Despite this setback, Dawson continued in the same vein with top class performances in the victories over Chelsea and Arsenal last week. On both occasions, Dawson proved he is far from a one-dimensional defender, continuously reading the play and snuffing out potentially threatening attacks from Arsenal, while dealing with the persistent threat of Didier Drogba with relative ease at the weekend. On this season’s form alone, we wouldn’t even be discussing his place in the squad for South Africa.

John Terry’s issues off the football pitch have affected his form for Chelsea during the run in, Rio Ferdinand has been limited to just 11 Premier League appearances in an injury hit season, Matthew Upson has played for a side that continue to leak goals as they fight off the threat of relegation and Manchester City duo Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards are both currently sidelined with injuries that could affect their preparations for the World Cup finals. One significant advantage all five of the above mentioned have over the Tottenham defender though is international experience. Dawson may have shown this season that he has all the attributes to make a world-class defender but whether Fabio Capello believes him to be a worthwhile risk with no full international caps to his name remains to be seen.

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