England have a history of calling up surprising players for World Cup squads; in the past Theo Walcott and Michael Owen have made late bids to be in the squad and succeeded (though in Walcott’s case he made no impact). This year the squad is generally more settled, but that does not mean there will be no surprise inclusions. England will be very fortunate if they are injury-free when the time comes to select the squad; in the past, key players like Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville missed out on World Cups through injury and both David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have gone to World Cups carrying injuries. If there are any injuries to key players, could some unlikely names come into Fabio Capello’s thinking?
David Dunn (Blackburn)
A very talented midfielder, Dunn has never achieved his potential as a result of a series of serious injuries and only has one full international cap to his name. Now at Blackburn, he is enjoying his most successful season in years. The English side has few players with genuine creativity and in injury to either Rooney or Joe Cole would leave the squad short of guile. Dunn can play anywhere along the midfield or as a second striker; if he continues to play like he has been, Capello may have to take notice.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
England’s strength for many years has been the depth of quality in the centre-back position. But with Carragher retired, Ferdinand and Woodgate struggling for form and fitness, and Lescott playing poorly; there may be an opportunity for the young Stoke defender. Ledley King’s inability to train regularly probably rules him out of contention too so Capello may have to look at Shawcross if Ferdinand cannot prove his reliability.
Jimmy Bullard (Hull City)
Similar to David Dunn in many ways, Bullard’s career has been damaged by injuries over the last two years, but he is another player that could provide a touch of magic if something were to happen to Rooney or Joe Cole. He is not a player that is considered to be international class by many, but he does possess a spark which most of the senior English midfielders lack as they rely more on pace and power than skill.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
The Arsenal starlet was tipped to push for a place in the squad by Wenger in the summer. He is certainly talented but a lack of first-team action is likely to have erased his slim chances of inclusion in the squad. If he manages to force his way into the Arsenal reckoning, then he is another that could provide some much needed creativity to Capello’s team.