Capello has finally chosen his 30 man provisional squad for the World Cup and we have friendly’s against both Mexico and Japan to look forward to on the 24th and 30th May. The 30 players chosen for the training camp looks to be by and large the correct decisions across the board. Let’s have a look at the defensive choices picked by the Italian.
Goalkeepers – Joe Hart, Robert Green and David James – No complaints here, the debate will still rage on as to who should be in between the sticks come our first match against the US, but the three chosen have a nice blend of experience and youth, although James’ injury worries should prove a cause for concern. Paul Robinson is probably the nearest contender for a spot should an injury rule someone out and Ben Foster’s lack of playing time and error prone ways mean he rightfully misses the cut. I expect Green to start mind you. Who will make the plane? All three
Left Backs – Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock – Three left backs does seem a bit excessive but it’s obviously to cover any lingering doubts Capello may have over Cole’s fitness, a precautionary measure at most it would appear. Cole has looked someway close to his best after his three month injury lay-off and it’s between the other two to compete, as they have done all season, to be Cole’s understudy. I’m leaning towards Baines due to his inclusion in the friendly against Egypt and his superior ability going forward, which makes him a better fit for the current formation should Cole get injured again. Who will make the plane? Cole and Baines
Right Backs – Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher – A contentious position with the Liverpool vice-captain’s inclusion. Johnson will go as first choice as widely expected with Carragher going in support. Wes Brown pays for his lack of game time and Fergie’s preference for John O’Shea in recent weeks. It is surprising not to see Phil Neville amongst the 30, I think he represents a safer bet than his brother Gary but he never looked to be in the mix if I’m being 100% honest with myself. Carragher’s versatility and ability to play at centre-half also counts for him and he represents a steady if unremarkable back-up option despite many questioning his attitude. Johnson is a decent attacking full-back, but against more testing opposition he can be caught out, Capello may then lump for the experience of Carragher. He surely wouldn’t have come out of international retirement unless he was promised a more prominent role than before, whether it will be in his desired centre half position is questionable though. Who will make the plan? Both
Centre Backs – John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King, Matthew Upson and Matthew Dawson – Carragher’s inclusion as a backup right back and centre half would probably mean that there are only three spots definitely open with perhaps a fourth available to bolster defensive numbers. It’s harsh on Phil Jagielka who’s looked in decent form for the past few weeks but although versatile, he’s nowjere near international class in any other position and his lack of versatility counts against him, he can look like a fish out of water when played at right back and the tournament looks to have come a month or two too soon for him.
Joleon Lescott’s injury woes have finally ruled him out and he’s had a difficult and patchy campaign at Eastlands after an eye-catching summer move. The fact that he’s seemingly better at left-back where he can call upon all of his strength and pace to be effective both going forward and at the back initially attracted the Italian to him, but he’s failed to deliver on his promise and his lack of positional sense when played at centre half is a worring aspect to his game.
Upson does look like remaining a Capello favourite despite the fact that his current club form should be pointing to the contrary and he’ll probably make the plane despite Dawson being a better alternative and a readymade partner for King should the occasion call for it. King makes the trip and I think everyone will be glad at that, his ability to perform in one-off games is a major plus and he could be called upon with skipper Ferdinand’s injury woes showing no signs of abating. Who will make the plane? Terry, Ferdinand, King and Upson
Written By James McManus