Home > Football > The England World Cup Squad: Who would you axe?

The England World Cup Squad: Who would you axe?

On Tuesday, Fabio Capello named his 30-man provisional World Cup squad. There had been much speculation beforehand in the press and amongst fans about who would be included and who would miss out.

Would Gary Neville be called up as cover for Glen Johnson? Could Capello succeed where Steve McClaren had failed and tempt Paul Scholes out of international retirement? Had Tottenham’s Ledley King done enough to convince the Italian of his fitness? The announcement was much anticipated.

When Signor Capello revealed his selection, BBC Sport ran an article under the headline ‘Fabio Capello makes surprise England World Cup choices.’ Having seen the squad, I personally fail to see the surprises as the usual suspects and veterans of former tournaments (Ferdinand, Terry, Rooney, Lampard, Crouch, Gerrard etc) are all there, in addition to players such as Walcott and Barry who played key roles in England’s successful qualifying campaign.

There are no real surprises in the goalkeeping department as David James, Joe Hart and Robert Green are all included. The question here will be who will Capello pick as his number one?

The only real surprise in defence, and perhaps the entire squad, is the inclusion of Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher. The Liverpool defender retired from international football after being overlooked by Steve McClaren and has never really shown any discernable signs of reversing his decision. Nevertheless, Capello has twisted his arm and it would seem, looking at the squad, that he has been chosen as cover for Glen Johnson at right back, as Carragher’s Liverpool teammate is the only recognised right back in the squad. Michael Dawson’s superb club form has won him a place in the 30-man squad and Capello seems to be happy with Ledley King’s fitness as he too is included.

In midfield, Michael Carrick has been included despite a sub-par season at Manchester United and Scott Parker’s endeavours at West Ham United have won him a first call-up in nearly four years. Manchester City youngster Adam Johnson has played his way in but Shaun Wright-Phillips is perhaps a slight surprise after a poor season at club level. It is also fair to say that not many predicted a first call-up for Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone, even after an impressive season at White Hart Lane.

The striking corps is very much as expected, although many question Emile Heskey’s credentials, particular with regard to scoring goals. Capello has shown on numerous occasions, however, that he is a firm fan of the Aston Villa frontman so his inclusion should not come as a shock.

The full squad is listed below.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa).

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Scott Parker (West Ham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City).

Forwards: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

All in all, it is a predictable squad as Capello has stuck with the players who got England to South Africa. Paul Scholes turned down the opportunity to play for his country again and the likes of Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves were always outside bets. There are no high profile casualties, particularly if one compares the squad to those of France (Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri omitted), Brazil (no Adriano or Ronaldinho) or Argentina (no Esteban Cambiasso).

Capello now takes this 30-man provisional squad in to games against Mexico (May 24th) and Japan (May 30th) and he will no doubt run the rule over those who are borderline inclusions. Seven must go.

Everybody has their own opinion on who should be on the plane to South Africa and who should be waving the squad off at Heathrow, so I asked a selection of friends and Sport Report readers for the names of the seven players they would axe. The results are shown in the graph below:

As you can see, opinion differs greatly depending on who you ask but two names came up repeatedly: Shaun Wright-Phillips and Matthew Upson, both of whom have struggled for their respective clubs of late. Those surveyed were also not convinced by the inclusion of Michael Carrick, Jamie Carragher and Stephen Warnock.

Ultimately, it will be up to Fabio Capello to make what will be seven extremely difficult choices. Let us hope he makes the right ones and brings the trophy back to old Blighty!

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Categories: Football
  1. John Platt
    May 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Its too late in the day now for formation change – Atleast I hope! In short, this is not a formation Cappello has used anywhere in his career & therefore I don’t see him experimenting this late in the day.

    I hate to ‘rain on the parade’ here & rest assured I’m fully behind the boys in SA, but I do want to add some perspective & realism to the debate by declaring that I can’t see us making it beyond the QF’s here. True I’d love to see The Lions lift the trophy, but baring 1-3 exceptionals, this is a limited team. I make this bold statement based on the following:

    – Our goalkeeping situation is weaker than 90% of the sides in the tournament. With an unsettled / unconfirmed back 4, a clear 1st choice GK is a MUST. No one seems sure where the error prone David James will oust the unconvincing Robert Green or whether Fab will do what he should’ve 6 months ago (& keep to his promise of choosing players in form & playing regular football) & select Joe Hart. Again I don’t think there’s time to mould Joe into the team & as with Carson, It’d be suicide to throw a young man in between the sticks so late in the day. James has only just returned to fitness, which means that we’re left with Green’s mediocrity who for me is average at best.

    – Rio & Terry offers one of the best centre half pairings in world football. The problem is, when was the last time they played together? Upson, is simply not good enough as a back up player & as much as I admire King’s proven ability, it is fair to say he’s one hell of a punt. Also, you can bet your bottom dollar that Glen Johnson (likely to be backed up by either Lennon or Wallcott) will be targeted by each of our oponents. His defensive abilities leave a lot to be desired & I see him being exploited after the group stages.

    – Our midfield is grossly unbalanced. It has to be one of Lamps or Stevie G. Why not throw down the gaunlet, rid them of complacency & play one or the other. Bringing one of them on with 30 mins left might reignite some of the determination to succeed at club level – In truth you & I know this will never happen. Down the right we’ll go with either Lennon or Walcott who in my mind are both impact players who don’t possess enough quality on the ball to pick out a man in the final 3rd. I say go with Joe Cole & have these 2 as plan B to terrorise defenders late on. With Barry touch & go we are again left with inept replacements in Carrick & Huddlestone – whilst decent enough they don’t quite have the same ‘va va voom’ as the Spanish bringing on Fabregas or the French unleashing Gorcouff…

    – As with my beloved United, over reliance on one man can be fatal. The over use of Wayne Rooney will run the poor guy into the ground before we reach the knockouts. The poor guy carries the weight of a nation on his broad shoulders. For me Peter Crouch should be a mainstay in the group. We are up against 2nd rate nations & Crouchie has a proven record of hurting this calibre of side. I say take some of the load off Wazza & preserve something for when it matters.

    I do hope I’m proven wrong but I look forward to the WC both as a proud POM & a football enthusiast. Somehow I just don’t see Darren Bent, Leighton Baines & SWP lofting the Jules Rimmet high in the sky come July… Then again its a funny old game!

    • May 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

      I have to say John that the goalkeeping situation is a real concern of mine. I do not think he really knows who his number one is and as you say, this is a massive problem when the back four is so beset by injury.

      Ferdinand has to be a concern (he has played less games than King this season) and Terry’s form has been poor. As for Johnson, I fear you are spot on.

      The midfield, we’ll have to see. Capello seems to have done a better job of balancing it than Sven or McClaren but again, too many out of form and half fit players. Carrick is actually a better player at international level than at United as he is afforded more time on the ball, but he is not an ideal choice by any means.

      The strange thing is, nobody jumps out at me in this world cup. I picked to Spain to win Euro 2008 and everyone laughed (they looked stupid in the end!) but I actually don’t fancy them this time. Fabregas and Torres are only half fit, Xavi may miss it, Iniesta is desperately lacking football and Senna is out. Similar problems to England in a way.

      Brazil may do it. Dunga has them playing a very functional brand of football that is more suited to modern internationals than the samba flair style of old.

      All in all I think it is very open and let’s hope England prove us wrong!

  2. May 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    The inclusion of Carragher is justifiable but my concern is Stevie G. He has not performed well this season due to injuries. For the good of the England, it might be best to have a real holding player and Lampard.

  3. Harpie
    May 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    A very interesting article and one which will cause a lot of debate. For my money, I can see no way that Carragher will not make the final 23, unless he suffers an injury. This is not due to my bias as a Liverpool fan (stop chuckling) who thinks that Carragher has had a very ordinary season, but , rather, as I fail to see how Capello could have persuaded him out of retirement without giving him the firm commitment that he will make the squad, provided he stays fit. Now whether or not he should be in the squad is another matter entirely, especially if he is there to provide cover for Johnson; he has stated publicly that he does not enjoy playing in that position. I have a feeling Capello might resort to playing Milner as a make-shift right-back, if required.

    I have a feeling he might be there as a utility player who can provide backup for one of our less-than-fit centre-backs in the form of one or both of King and Ferdinand. Carragher might also be useful if Capello is thinking of playing three at the back (please don´t do it!) as has been rumoured in the press over the past few days…

    • May 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      I agree with you here Harpie. I do think whether or not Carragher should be in the squad is a separate issue to whether he will be. I think the point you make about Capello tempting him out of international retirement is spot on. Would he have agreed to it if he didn’t have assurances about his place in the final squad? I don’t think he would have. Johnson is the only right back in the squad which is why I think he is in there as cover. Like you say, he doesn’t like playing there and he’s not very good there either.

      Centre backs are a worry with Ferdinand and King being injury prone and Terry desperately out of form. I don’t think he will play three at the back as it just isn’t the Italian way, but if he does, I think we will struggle

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