AJ for England?

Jonhson celebrates his magic strike against Sunderland

With a little under three months left to the World Cup, the excitement is building up in the air over England’s chances and who gets a plane ticket to South Africa. There are a few obvious ‘shoe-ins’ in the wide areas for the squad – barring fitness – including the likes of James Milner and Aaron Lennon. But the rest (especially since Beckham’s injury) it’s an open shop! Taking good form is just as important as the amount of caps they’ve won. England has competition in wide areas and the latest name who must be included in this list is Manchester City’s Adam Johnson.

Although Roberto Mancini has said he thinks he is not ready, I disagree. He is not the finished article – not by a long way – but he is actually someone that England rarely produces: a gifted, two-footed winger who can play right or left side of midfield and possess the ability to dribble past players with skill as well as pace.

He is young, unproven and unknown to many in the world of football, who showed against Sunderland how to positively change a game scoring a goal of the highest order. If his form continues he will have just a good a chance as the other contenders.

Stewart Downing: good, solid, left-sided midfielder – can cross the ball at ease, but is not a true goal threat or a creator of opportunities and doesn’t terrorise defenders with his ability. A safe bet, will offer balance and no more.

Shaun Wright-Phillips: if his performance against Sunderland was anything to go by he can flatter to deceive.  He is quick, very quick, but looks to come inside to play square when begging to just roast a few players.  Johnson showed in 15 minutes what Wright-Philips couldn’t do for the previous 75.

Joe Cole: the only question mark with Cole will be fitness, he has all the party tricks with the bells and whistles to boot with end product! And he is a proven at international level – he simply needs more game-time.

Ashley Young: another player with a bundle of talent who frustrates and goes missing for too long in big games (i.e. the Carling Cup Final) and his form has been inconsistent this season hence him dipping in and out of Capello’s squad.

Theo Walcott: has been hit with an Argos catalogue of injuries over the past 12-15 months which has subsequently affected his form and confidence. Still needs to improve his decision making at key moments.  An excellent performance against Burnley and cameos against Porto and Hull suggest that he coming into form at the right time, and is as fresh as a bottle of Lenor!!

If England are going to cause a major surprise and have a successful World Cup then Capello will need to have players who are ‘game-changers’ – who can come off the bench and make something happen.  Johnson has that in his locker, and to be a given a chance to showcase his ability would be a huge benefit to England.

6 thoughts on “AJ for England?”

  1. To me, if the starting lineup will include folks like Milner/Barry/Lampard/Gerrard, I would look to insert players with raw pace. Theo Walcott, assuming he continues in his recent form, should be included for that change of pace. AJ to me seems like a one-trick pony. He’s got some stepovers but no real pace to change a game at the international level. It’s great that he floated in a very nicely curved goal against Sunderland, but will Patrice Evra of France let him tee it up like that? Doubtful. I just don’t see AJ being a big impact against the top defenders at the world cup.

    I’m not saying that Theo Walcott will consistently burn past Evra, but if you bring Walcott on at the 70th minute for fresh legs against a fatigued Evra, I could see Walcott creating some problems.

    I prefer Ashley Young to Downing, since we are really considering these players as backups and sparkplugs off the bench. Young can be that sparkplug, and he can help on free kicks as well. Joe Cole was arguably England’s best palyer in 2006, so he deserves a careful look. However, I don’t see him getting enough minutes at Chelsea with the form that Malouda’s in, so I’m not sure Cole will have enough match fitness in time for the world cup.

  2. It seems that luck is smiling on Joe Cole right now.

    All of the fill ins for Beckham are not big game players and have no experience. Joe Cole controls his world cup fate, if he plays well down the stretch. In Beckham they lose a huge leader. Cole is an emotional guy who can galvanize the team. For this reason he is clearly the choice. Losing Beckham hurts more in the dressing room. Cole is part of the core of the team.

    He can play middle, left or right with ease and is truly one of 4-5 world class players that England have. When you compare him to Downing, Young, or Walcott, Cole stands above. Only needs to stay healthy. England will be sorry and bounced quickly without Cole.

  3. If it were me I’d be looking at Joe Cole, James Milner, and Downing.

    Joe Cole is a proven player if he can get some more minutes and keep getting better from the prolonged time he missed with his knee injury.

    Milner and Downing have played very well together this year and you would have to think about putting them on the pitch at the same time.

    I like Shaun-Wright Phillips, I really do but the guy cant cross and they should have enough players with blazing pace between Lennon and Walcott if they decide to stay healthy.

    I dislike Chelsea very much but I hope Capello will pickup Joe Cole even if it is just for a substitute role.

  4. Until he’s starting regularly for City no AJ. Plenty of people with pace and experience ahead of him though good luck to him going forward as he looks talented.

    Milner will go because he can apparently play everything from left back to right mid. Not sure about that but I’d take him but not play him anywhere near the back.

    Cole was dreadful today when he came on – he’s going to get on that plane through rep alone at this rate as he has had a dreadful season.
    If i had to take 4 widemen, it would be Lennon (assuming he’s available), Walcott, Downing and Cole as he can be put up front too.

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