Despite winning nine of their 10 qualifying games, many England players are currently nursing injuries or suffering from a lack form. Some of Fabio Capello’s choices have been controversial as well with the likes of Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Gareth Barry, Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson being included and the likes of Paul Robinson, Ben Foster and Owen Hargreaves being omitted.
However Walcott believes that Capello has selected excellent players and believes that they are more than capable of winning the World Cup. He said:
“We have to believe we can win the tournament, obviously Spain are one of the big favourites. They won the European Championships and that was a great achievement.”
He added: “But we have nothing to fear because we’ve got some fantastic players. If you look at us individually there are some great players and if you look at the way we qualified, it shows that those individuals are playing together as a team. We just want to go one step further at the World Cup and bring it back for the fans.”
Ironically these comments have come from a player who finds his spot in the final 23-man squad under threat, as he hasn’t performed very well for Arsenal this season. Were it not for that hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb you have to wonder if he would have even made the prelimary squad. With Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson and Joe Cole in the squad, Walcott will seriously need to impress Capello in England’s upcoming friendlies against Mexico and Japan, and prove that he is worthy of his place in the team.
Out of Walcott’s competition, Lennon and Milner are probably guaranteed to make the plane to South Africa but the others are an uncertainty. Wright-Phillips hasn’t been a regular starter for Manchester City, his team mate Adam Johnson has been starting in his place but has only been there for an albeit impressive six months. As for Joe Cole he has had his share of injury problems and hasn’t played too many times for Chelsea this season.
The other main midfield uncertainty is Gareth Barry who recently sustained an ankle injury whilst playing for Man City. He is a key player in Capello’s team having been virtually an ever-present under his management. However he needs to prove that he is fit enough to take part in South Africa.
Upfront all of Capello’s choices make sense apart from Emile Heskey, despite his good link-up play for England in the past he has finished the season for Aston Villa scoring a measly five goals in 42 appearances. Is that really internationally class, considering he has been chosen in favour of Bobby Zamora who has scored 17 goals in a poorer Fulham side.
In defense Ledley King has been unable to take part in training properly due to his chronic knee problems. Although his selection means that Capello believes he can make a big contribution in the World Cup it has to be asked, how can he be properly assessed? Jamie Carragher has controversially come out of international retirement to be part of Capello’s squad but this means that he has let his team mates do all the work in qualifying and is now trying to be part of what they accomplished. Add to the fact that he hasn’t had a spectacular season for Liverpool, does he really deserve to go to the World Cup?
All of these player uncertainies are going to need to be addressed soon, because if they aren’t then it will spell yet another disappointing World Cup for England. For so long they have had the players but not the manager, now they have the right manager it would be a shame for the players not to come through.