Throughout the whole qualifying campaign, Capello always had an idea how his team were going to play and how the personnel he brought in suited his style and blueprint very well. Fast forward a few months later, he is facing a conundrum regarding the squad he is going to take to the World Cup. With football’s showpiece event just a month away, injuries have taken its toll on his players throughout this long and football season.
At the beginning of the year, every one of us and Capello as well would have had a clear idea of how his squad was shaping up and we could somehow rather guess the players who were going to be in the 23 man squad to South Africa. After all, he has been quite consistent in choosing his players and he had a clear idea of how the players were going to fit into his system, resisting the calls for the likes of Michael Owen to be recalled to the England team.
However, all this has changed recently. This past 2 or 3 months have been nothing short of decisive for the England team. One by one their players start picking up injuries ranging from David Beckham (who is definitely out but will be there with the team) to the latest injury in Gareth Barry who has been a vital part of Capello’s team. This can be attributed to the long, hard and competitive season for their respective teams, but we are not here to discuss about that are we?
These injuries have come at a crucial time for the England team but I can imagine the likes of Rooney, Johnson and Ferdinand will be going (even if they have been struggling with fitness issues recently) barring a nasty turn of events which would prevent them from going to the World Cup. When news of Barry facing around four weeks out filtered through, I think most England fans and even Capello knows they seem to be having a slight problem currently. And if anyone has noticed, injuries are only part of the problem. Some of the players are going through a bad run of form at a crucial moment. Heskey has barely played in the second half of the season and the likes of Defoe seem to be fading away after a great start to the season. The question, is Capello willing to take risks at his stage of the season and with the World Cup less than a month away?
Coming into the question are a few players who have proven credentials in the premier league and seem to be playing their way into Capello’s thoughts. Ledley King’s injuries are well documented but he has been in great form this season and it is astonishing to actually think he has played more football than Ferdinand this season. His defensive partner Dawson has also been outstanding alongside him as Upson continues with his mediocre season for West Ham.
Gary Neville going to the World Cup would have been a far distinct probability until recently where the Man Utd captain has lost a fair amount of pace and is not the player he used to be. But he seems to be defying all the odds and playing some good football in recent months showing how vital his experience can be to the England team when his team mate Wes Brown (who before this was the first choice cover for Johnson at right back) seems to be struggling with injuries and form. There are other players like Joe Cole who hasn’t been in the best of form all season but has a proven international credibility and as news of Barry’s injury filtered through, there were even talks of a shock England recall for Owen Hargreaves who has had a torrid time with injury, but we know in terms of what he can offer the England team and that could be crucial.
At the rate in which these problems are coming thick and fast, there might even be a space for Darren Bent who has been banging in the goals this season but seems underwhelming when it comes to international football. So again, is Capello willing to put his loyalty as we know to one side and take a few risks? What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments section below.