Do England have enough of a balance in the forward line?

When Fabio Capello named his squad for Saturday’s qualifier against Wales there were no surprises in his forward line. The solitary Manchester United representative, Wayne Rooney, is a certainty – injury permitting – and regulars Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch were joined by Darren Bent and Andy Carroll.

Carroll reportedly impressed Capello with his showing in the friendly against France and having finally broken his duck for his country and made the move to Villa Park, Bent appears to be in favour with the Italian tactician. On paper this appears a strong forward line, but considering current fortunes it should by no means be a given. Carroll has only made two starts for new club Liverpool since being sidelined by injury in December and has not yet completed 90 minutes. Crouch and Defoe on the other hand have only managed four Premier League goals between them in what has been a disappointing season for Spurs’ forward line. Rooney is returning to something like his best whereas Bent is the only one of the five in any sort of consistent form.

This begs the question whether Capello should be widening his net in securing attacking options. He has done so with the introduction of Matt Jarvis, but some may argue he should have taken this further by picking the in-form Daniel Sturridge. The former Manchester City man has four goals in five games for Bolton following his loan move from Chelsea in January, which would suggest he is in far better form than many of his countrymen. He may also offer something slightly different to the options Capello has at his disposal.

For some having both Crouch and Carroll in the squad lacks imagination and would only really serve a purpose if one were to start. If both players were to sit on the bench a case would not arrive where both needed to be introduced and if one were to start replacing one for the other would not change the way of playing. Carroll may have more in the way of power than Crouch but it seems strange to have two players in the squad who both encourage the team to go long.

Bringing Sturridge in on the other hand would give a little experience to a player who undoubtedly will be an England regular in the future. Putting him in the squad now would also play on his current confidence and if called upon he could well have the potential to be a match winner. It may seem strange discussing a player struggling for form and consistency before Christmas in these terms but considering not only his goals for Bolton but also his recent performances it would not necessarily be a gamble for Capello.

Sturridge is quick, possess a great shot, can come deep or run beyond the last defender and has confidence in abundance. There may be no harm in throwing him in at a time when other forward players may be struggling for both form and goals. For someone with the self-belief of Sturridge it could have proven a masterstroke by Capello.

The Bolton man may have missed out on this England squad but his current form and the possibilities of developing under Owen Coyle in a similar vein as Jack Wilshere will not have gone unnoticed by Capello. The time for Sturridge in an England shirt could well come sooner than many may have imagined in January.

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