Fabio Capello named his provisional 30 man World Cup squad earlier this week. There were some surprises throughout the squad but I want to focus on England’s defence. After announcing earlier this year that Rio Ferdinand would be England captain after the John Terry fiasco including him in the squad looked almost certain but who will be the in the final seven or eight defenders chosen for South Africa.
The first casualty of the squad cull from 30 to 23 could well be Steven Warnock. England has Ashley Cole, one of the best left backs in the world and a good cover player in the form of Leighton Baines. England don’t need three left backs in the squad so one must go and Warnock is the unfortunate player that doesn’t quite cut it. He lacks consistency in his performances for Aston Villa and Baines is capable of taking decent free kicks and corners if needs be.
Ledley King could be another player which may not make the flight to South Africa. Martin Jol described King as “the best central defender I have seen in my career” and if it hadn’t been for King’s chronic knee problems who knows how much better he might have been. King trains away from the rest of the Tottenham squad and can really only play one game a week but when he does play, he’s outstanding. He would be a risk for Capello. King’s match performances may be good but his injury could get worse. Capello may choose to take a fitter player even if they lack King’s experience.
I was surprised that Jamie Carragher was included in the squad. He is an experienced player but for England, Carragher was never really a big presence. He retired from the international scene three years ago and only managed to rack up 34 appearances in eight years. On a positive note Carragher is flexible, he can play right or left back and centre back, and he has a lot of experience.
The other defender whose place is at risk is Michael Dawson. He has impressed this season at Tottenham and worked hard to earn his place in the England squad. Carlos Tevez was once quoted as saying Dawson was “the best English defender I have played against.” On a negative, he lacks international experience, has no England caps and Capello could worry that he may crumble under the pressure.
If Gareth Barry doesn’t recover from his injury before the World Cup it is rumoured that Fabio Capello may change England’s formation to 3-5-2. Although saying this Capello has never used this formation before and when England last used the formation under Steve McClaren, they lost 2-0 against Croatia.
By the end of May we will know who Capello has selected in his final squad which will go to South Africa. Those players hold the fate of a nation and this time next month the tournament will be under way.
With South Africa 2010 upon us, find out where Capello’s men feature in the ‘World Cup betting’