Roy Hodgson will on Wednesday name his England squad for Euro 2012 amid much speculation, rumour and debate. Will there be a place for John Terry? Has Rio Ferdinand really been left out? Will the new manager pick both Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard? Or maybe neither? Could Andy Carroll get the nod over Peter Crouch? And is Wayne Rooney worth taking despite being suspended for the first two group games?
All of these questions and more will be answered soon but before then, A
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Scott Carson, John Ruddy
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Micah Richards, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Adam Johnson
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Daniel Sturridge
The first major headache would have been picking two from the experienced Glen Johnson, defensively solid Micah Richards and PFA Young Player of the Year Kyle Walker to play at right-back, but with Walker now ruled out through injury, the former two get the nod. I would leave divisive former captain John Terry out for the sake of squad harmony.
With Jack Wilshere injured, the midfielders pick themselves. James Milner’s versatility could prove useful. There is huge competition for the wide positions, but I believe Ashley Young, Adam Johnson and (begrudgingly) Theo Walcott offer more, particularly in terms of goals, than the inconsistent Aaron Lennon, out-of-form Stewart Downing and exciting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – for whom this tournament may have come too soon.
Despite his poor performances in South Africa and two-match suspension, Wayne Rooney is selected because he is the only world class option. Carroll’s recent upturn in form puts him ahead of fellow target men Grant Holt and Peter Crouch. Jermain Defoe’s impressive goals-to-starts ratio for Spurs sees him get the nod ahead of the recovering Darren Bent. My final pick is the lively Daniel Sturridge, who is a more impressive, exciting player than Danny Welbeck in my opinion.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy
Defenders: Micah Richards, Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines
Midfielders: Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Ashley Young, Adam Johnson
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent/Jermain Defoe
The England squad can largely be divided into two groups: certainties and maybes. In goal, Joe Hart is a certainty but the two remaining places will both be taken up by maybes. Robert Green is the most likely understudy. I have picked John Ruddy as the third-choice goalkeeper to give a younger player some tournament experience.
In defence the extra baggage associated with John Terry has led me to leave him at home. Partnering Rio Ferdinand would be Gary Cahill, with Phil Jones and Joleon Lescott in support. The absence through injury of Kyle Walker eradicates the problem of picking two right-backs from the three of Walker, Micah Richards and Glen Johnson. Left-backs Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines are uncontested choices.
Familiar faces reign in midfield with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry and Scott Parker all experienced internationals. For a dash of vitality and the unexpected, I turn to not only Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson, but also Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain is not there to start but for equal parts tournament experience and an impact off the bench when needed.
Wayne Rooney travels despite being suspended for two games. Danny Welbeck is selected too. Andy Carroll is included as a more physical option and if Darren Bent is fit, he goes as well. Otherwise Jermain Defoe gets the last striker’s spot.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy
Defenders: Micah Richards, Kyle Walker (now injured), Joleon Lescott, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole
Midfielders: Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Frank Lampard, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Andy Carroll, Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck
OK, first up. Yes, I know I’ve left John Terry out. As good as he might be on the pitch, and I believe his influence is overstated for both club and country, he is a highly divisive figure. Exhibit A: Wayne Bridge. Exhibit B: Attempted mutiny in South Africa. Exhibit C: Racism allegations and Fabio Capello’s resignation.
My squad selection is designed to create a team which is greater than the sum of its parts and to send out a message that this is not about individuals, this is about the team. If you cannot subscribe to that philosophy you do not make the cut.
It is also a team with the future in mind. So, I have called time on Steven Gerrard’s career too. While I have no issues with him off the pitch, as with Terry, I believe he is past his peak and his influence is overstated. I recognise the need for some older heads in the dressing room so I have made space for Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard but it will be made clear to both they will not be guaranteed a starting spot. I’ll keep an eye on the fitness of Scott Parker and Darren Bent. Oh, and my captain will be the player in the starting line up with the most caps.
Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.