England’s alternative uncapped XI
England’s hangover from the World Cup seems to be easing after the national side beat Bulgaria last Friday. It was a convincing 4-0 victory which featured a clinical hat-trick from Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe. Yet when this good work evaporates in major tournaments, supporters and journalists will question the national side’s apparent lack of hunger and desire to win. A simplistic analysis it may be but one that finds credence with many. Fabio Capello will presumably turn to youth as he seeks to reinvigorate an ageing team but there are swathes of uncapped English players who still may have something to offer. FootballFanCast runs through some of these players in the trusty 4-4-2 formation which has long been the default formation for England managers.
The 35-year old keeper has been at Newcastle United since 1993 but was frequently in the shadow of former Toon favourite Shay Given. Harper who has an Open University degree is now the club’s undisputed No1. Tim Krul may be after that job but Harper was one of the club’s most consistent performers last term and will be seeking to build on that back in the Premier League.
The 27-year old defender alongside Scott Dann was pivotal to Birmingham’s top half finish last season. The former Cardiff City man who is no stranger to criticising referees made the step up to the PL seem effortless. Respected journalists including The Times’ Patrick Barclay described him as polished and a valuable asset to the club’s backline.
Aside from Phil Brown’s permanent tan, the London born defender caught the eye in Hull City’s inaugural PL season. Being a fantasy football hit he was snapped up by free-spending Sunderland in 2009. As a no nonsense defender he is often on the receiving end of referring cautions. Steve Bruce has tipped him as a future England centre-back.
The 24-year old defender is most commonly found in the centre but can play as a right-back. It has been a turbulent year for the talented defender, enduring a fracas with team-mate Andy Carroll and unable to agree a new deal with Newcastle. His long term future at the club may be in doubt but his performances suggest a maturity beyond his years. There will be no shortage of clubs after his signature if his contractual situation is not reconciled.
Taylor is predominantly a left sided midfielder but England are not averse to playing people out of position. The Bolton man did often play as an attacking left-back for former club Portsmouth. Glen Johnson has demonstrated the importance of defenders needing to defend. Nevertheless versatile left-footers are always at a premium and few can strike the ball as sweetly as Taylor.
Still only 23-years old, Mark Noble is West Ham’s longest serving player and a veteran of England’s under-21s. Noble would undoubtedly relish the chance to make the transition that James Milner made to the senior squad. His progression from the 2006/07 season when he made a telling impact has been patchy. By playing alongside Scott Parker he has grown in stature and is on the way to becoming an all action midfielder.