West Ham United skipper Scott Parker was one of the surprise inclusions in Fabio Capello’s preliminary 30-man
This is Parker’s first inclusion in a major championship squad but probably should not be. In 2004 Parker played the best football of his career with Charlton Athletic, with a sequence of combative showings that left the Addicks in a Champions League place at Christmas. A £10m transfer to Chelsea in January cost him regular football and with it a place in that summer’s European Championships. 2006 also saw another close shave as consistent performances in the heart of the Newcastle side got people asking for his inclusion. However in March that year he was diagnosed with glandular fever which blew any hopes of a summer in Germany.
Parker’s consistency is what has won him a place in the early squad – wherever he has been he rarely has a bad game. The fact he has now been called up by three different managers (Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello) playing for four different clubs (Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham) shows his performances have been at a top level for a number of years now. His style of play is unique to England too, as he does not just break up play with his ferocious tackles but creates a number of attacks for his teammates. In cricket he would be seen as a good all-rounder, a tag only Steven Gerrard could be handed of the England regulars. Leadership by example will be important in the tournament too and Parker scores big points here, having captained three of the four sides he has played for (Chelsea being the exception).
The negatives to his play are that he simply does not get enough goals – his tally of 20 in 318 games is less than his competitors for a midfield berth, Tom Huddlestone, Michael Carrick and James Milner. A lack of experience at international level is also apparent with just three caps, meaning Parker could be a risk up against some of the best sides in the world. Parker’s career has also been hit regularly by injury, only once going through a season without interruption in 2002.
Parker has had a tremendous season and is for sure deserving of his place as Capello promised to pick form players. We – and the player himself – will just have to wait and see if Parker can pip Huddlestone, Carrick or Milner for a seat on the plane to South Africa.