Tom Huddlestone called up for provisional England squad

The call-up of Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone was one of the big surprises in Fabio Capello’s 30-man provisional England squad. The central midfield berth has become one of the most open spots in the England squad due to Gareth Barry becoming a major doubt going into the tournament with an ankle problem. Huddlestone faces direct competition for a place in the final squad with Manchester United’s Michael Carrick and West Ham’s Scott Parker. The former youth international has just the one international cap which came as a late substitute against Brazil in a friendly last year.

The 2009/10 campaign has been the making of Huddlestone as an accomplished Premier League midfielder. He has become an integral part of Harry Redknapp’s rejuvenation at White Hart Lane and has been joined in Capello’s provisional squad by five of his team mates. That could be a deciding factor on Huddlestone making the cut as he will have an inside knowledge on where and when the likes of Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe want the ball. This season the 23 year old has made 43 appearances for Spurs in all competitions becoming one of the first names on Redknapp’s team sheet. His backing has been rewarded by a number of impressive displays over the course of the season. Huddlestone has also had an almost injury free season with just short spells on the treatment table in early March and early April ruling him out of some games.

Huddlestone’s biggest strength is his passing, with some Spurs’ fans comparing his ability to the legendary Glenn Hoddle. He has emerged as one of the best ball playing mid-fielders in the country, able to play the ball short and accurate most of the time but also able to sweep the ball wide to change the tempo of a game. His ability to keep possession of a football could be key in international football where ball retention is absolutely crucial. Other strengths are an ability to win the ball back and powerful shooting from long range. Although he has only scored four goals all season a magnificent strike recently against Bolton showcased his shooting prowess.

Huddlestone’s weakness is that he is not the most quickest or mobile of mid-fielders. Due to his tall heavy frame he can sometimes look quite lethargic and off the pace of the game. He can sometimes lack discipline which can be showed by his 10 bookings this season, although he is by no means a malicious player he can sometimes be a bit clumsy with his tackling. Huddlestone certainly has a chance of going to South Africa with England not exactly blessed with options in central midfield. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are certainties but with Barry’s injury problems there could be one or two spots up for grabs. Carrick has had a poor season for Manchester United and has no real form going into the tournament. Parker has had a great season for West Ham but Huddlestone may be a classier player at international level. The elegant midfielder would offer England a range of passing above many of his peers if taken to South Africa.

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