England Camp Focus – Capello explores options with current Three Lions squad

The biggest shock when England Head Coach, Fabio Capello announced his squad for Tuesday’s international against Montenegro was the inclusion of Bolton Wanderers’ Kevin Davies. The 33-year-old has never been capped at this level, despite doing so at under-21 level over a decade ago; with many including Davies himself feeling this particular chance had passed.

The inclusion of Davies ahead of Newcastle United’s young striker Andy Carroll represents a pragmatic approach by Capello. The Italian tactician knows exactly what Davies will give him. He is able to look past the notion of the striker simply as a battering ram and is well aware of Davies’ abilities on the ball and with his back to goal. There is little possibility of him starting the game with the current form of Darren Bent and the inclusion in the squad of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch, but he will be there if needed from the bench. It is in this capacity which the former Southampton man has been given the nod over Carroll. Davies is fully aware he has been picked purely as a stop-gap due to the current injuries of a number of strikers ahead of him in the pecking order. He knows he is not one for the future. This may work to Capello’s advantage if Davies is introduced, as undoubtedly he will simply throw himself into the match without thinking of the wider picture. At his age he is unlikely to be overawed and will simply do the job the boss asks him to do. This may prove the perfect choice by Capello if his strikers are struggling to unlock a physical Montenegrin defence. It would be too big an ask for Carroll to do this at his age and with the fear if he does not give a good account of himself he may be overlooked when the next squad is announced.

Capello may be missing many potential forward players but the Italian does have the luxury of recalling some of his more experienced players such as captain Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. The inclusion of Ferdinand creates two dilemmas for Capello. Firstly, with his first-choice centre-back partnership in the squad Capello has to decide whether to keep faith with the hugely impressive Phil Jagielka or make a return to the old guard. If Ferdinand is selected on the pitch Capello must then decide whether to return the captain’s armband to the Manchester United man or to continue to bestow the honour on the shoulders of vice-captain Steven Gerrard. With Gerrard’s solid performances in England’s recent encounters Capello may feel the blow of not being captain may put him more in the mindset of his club side rather than recapturing his current international form. With the continued absence of Frank Lampard much of the onus will be placed on Gerrard’s shoulders. For this reason Capello may feel it appropriate to continue with the Liverpool man as captain. Tablefootballfront.jpg

Arguably one of the most interesting areas concerning the England squad for this qualifier is that of wide midfield. Capello is without both Theo Walcott (injury) and James Milner (suspension), the two players starting in wide positions against both Bulgaria and Switzerland. With this in mind, Joe Cole has earned a recall as has Aaron Lennon although it may be unlikely either will start the match with both showing little in the way of form so far this season. Adam Johnson may believe he has done enough to earn a start considering his tally for his country in the last two games and some impressive recent form for both club and country. This is certainly an option as Johnson could be utilised from the right flank as at Manchester City. If Capello makes this decision it is unlikely Lennon will start with the more likely option for the other flank being either Cole or Ashley Young. Young has often flattered to deceive when picked for his country but in the opinion of this writer this may be the way to go for Capello. This would enable both players to occupy their favoured position and would give England an added dimension utlising two wide players who like to cut inside. This has become much more of a trend in modern-day football and is surely an option England should explore. If England start as many expect with Rooney and Bent up-front the wide players will be expected to link up on the edge of the box and feed the ball between defenders rather than hitting the bye-line and whipping crosses in. This could be a match winning option for Capello.

Despite experiencing a number of injuries in key positions there is still an element of strength surrounding Capello’s squad which provides him with different options both for the starting XI and affecting the game during the 90 minutes. He may not be 100% happy with all areas but he will be confident this group of players has enough to push his side another step closer to qualification.

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