The key battles for the England 2012 squad

Every good squad needs depth. Whether it’s to provide internal competition or competent backup to the first team any single successful team will have it, or should have it. It is particularly important for international competitions where we do not know who might be injured or suspended come the summer. Euro 2012 is still over six months away – plenty of time to win a place in the team, or lose one. There will be key battles all over the England squad and hopefully it can bring the best out in all involved.

Right-back

Glen Johnson started against Spain at the weekend but you the feeling that he was in there for the experience as much as anything else. Kyle Walker is many people’s favourite to usurp Johnson this summer but we can’t discount the inclusion of Micah Richards either. Richards has been ignored thus far by Capello but if he continues in his current vein of from the Italian will have to pay heed sooner or later. Chris Smalling stands an outside chance of becoming England’s right back, the benefit of taking him is that he can also play at centre-back.

Centre-back

One position we are definitely not short of options is central defence. With Ferdinand slipping down the pecking order and Terry’s form and future far from certain the opportunity is there for others to step in. Gary Cahill and Phil Jones are obvious choices but Lescott’s form has improved dramatically this year and he and Jagielka proved that working together they were able to keep out the most potent attacking team in the world. Cahill’s form on the other hand has been stuttering for Bolton of late and unless he moves in January I could see him stagnating as a player this season.

Central midfield

I must say that if he is fit I think Wilshere is a definite starter and I would say the same about Scott Parker if it wasn’t clear for all to see that Capello has a thing for Gareth Barry. On merit Parker deserves his place as the holding midfielder but whether he can maintain his current level of form or not is another matter altogether. That leaves one more space in central midfield which could go to either Cleverly, Lampard or Gerrard realistically. Gerrard’s main battle will be against his fitness and Frank stands a chance as long as he keeps his place for Chelsea. Cleverly was playing well before his injury and only time will tell how far he can go this season. Definitely a battle to watch. Phil Jones also can’t be totally discounted although it is unlikely that he will win a place in midfield over the others.

Striker

Ideally Andy Carroll would have found some form by now. At £35m you’d expect him to be a sufficient replacement for Wayne Rooney whilst his suspension lasts but his form so far this season has done nothing to suggest that he is worth either his price tag or a place in England’s starting eleven. Many people, including Capello, are coming round to the idea of Darren Bent. We all know his passing and build up play leaves a lot to be desired but he does get the goals. Welbeck and Sturridge will both be pushing for a place in the first team and to be honest both are good options, but neither is a proven goal scorer. At international level you get few chances and if you had to put money on anyone grabbing a goal given the chance I think most people would choose Bent. He also plays excellently alongside Ashley Young who is almost certain to start. Zamora stands an outside chance but personally I think his time has passed, Defoe is good enough to be a sub but not a starter – too erratic.

It’s all well and good to sit here saying we have good squad depth in many positions, which we do, because come June our team could look considerably different. Early season form for some players will fade and the opposite will be true for others however Capello can be comfortable in the knowledge that the potential for various starting elevens is within the squad, as proved against Spain.

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Join the debate on Twitter @H_Mackay

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