Capello’s Provisional 30-man squad – Striking options assessed

Following on from my previous two articles, it brings us all to the conclusion, I’ve picked 19 players that I think are likely to make the trip to South Africa out of the 25 available in those positions  and I’ll do the same here with the striking department options.

Strikers – Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch – I’m surprised that there’s no space for Carlton Cole in the provisional 30-man squad as I always thought he’d be in contention to make the final squad at the very least as a big-man backup for the seriously injury-prone Heskey. Zamora too misses out rather worryingly, and although he’s got an Achilles injury which puts his starting place in the Europa League final in doubt for Fulham against Atletico, it wouldn’t be enough to rule him out on that alone and it would appear his fine form in Europe hasn’t been enough, a wrong decision in my view. Gabby Agbohnlahor was always an outside bet, and as always, he’s looked burnt out towards the end of the season with manager Martin O’Neill unwilling to rest his pacy front man.

Darren Bent’s place looks to have come at the expense of Zamora with the two reported to be in a two-way tussle for the remaining striking spot. It would appear Bent’s 24 league goals have proved too difficult to ignore. I doubt whether he’ll make the trip though as he looks to be in another two-way tussle with Jermaine Defoe to be Capello’s quick, game-changing striking option to bring off the bench. For the record and I think this has been well documented, I’d much rather prefer Bent to Defoe, but whether this is likely to happen, I’m not so sure and at the moment it looks like being either of them and not both, with Defoe the strong favourite baring a miraculous training camp from Bent.

Wayne Rooney goes without saying, if he gets injured we may aswel pack our bags and go home. Emile Heskey’s inclusion will not surprise most yet will exasperate many, but after scoring 34 goals in qualifying working in tandem up top with Rooney, the most of any qualified European nation, 6 more than Spain, I’m a big fan of what he offers to the team despite his woeful club form and it would appears so is Capello. In this case at least, I think it’s very much an example of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Crouch has looked poor in recent months and he’s slipped in and out of the Spurs starting eleven after lanky Russian Pavlyuchenko went through a purple patch of sorts, but his international record is outstanding and he’s a useful outlet if we’re chasing a game. A sound header of the ball, capable of playing on touch football on the deck and a reliable striker in front of goal in this company, his inclusion is a no-brainer.

In an ideal world, with everyone fully fit, I would have personally gone for a quintet of Rooney, Bent, Crouch, Heskey and Zamora but that doesn’t show any signs of happening in the immediate future and probably shows why I’m not a professional manager and Capello is. Walcott’s ability to play up front if need be seriously hampers Bent’s chances of making the plane and despite most of the country, baring Spurs fans (I get it, he wasn’t great for you, you don’t rate him, no need to keep harping on about it in a ridiculously biased manner) wanting him there, Capello looks like trusting Defoe instead. Who will make the plane? Rooney, Heskey, Crouch and Defoe

So if you’re not sticklers for counting, here’s my final squad based off the three articles. I’ll add that rather than being my ideal squad, I think this is the most likely to be Capello’s final squad when he decides to cut it down to just 23 players from 30 and that mine would look somewhat different given the chance.

Goalkeepers – Hart, Green, James

Defenders – G. Johnson, Carragher, Terry, Ferdinand, King, Upson, A.Cole, Baines

Midfielders – Gerrard, Lampard, Milner, Carrick, Parker, Lennon, Walcott, A.Johnson

Strikers – Rooney, Heskey, Crouch, Defoe

So what does everyone else think –  likely squad, or am I off my rocker?

Written By James McManus