England have always had a great tradition for goalkeepers, the likes of Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton are legends, and David Seaman was dependable for well over a decade and kept goal for his country in four straight major tournaments. However, in recent years, the likes of David James and Paul Robinson have wrestled for the number one shirt with neither putting in outstanding performances. James and Robinson are by far the most experienced goalkeepers England have in their arsenal, with Rob Green and a host of untapped youngsters also vying for position. James started 5 times in World Cup qualifying, with Green in favour most recently starting 4 matches, so there is still a myriad of possibilities for who will be starting in Royal Bafokeng against USA next month. EPL Talk will now look at the contenders who will be knocking on Fabio Capello’s door.
Robert Green (West Ham Utd, 30, caps 9)
Like his counterpart James, Green has played in a struggling side all season but in competitive Internationals, Green has recently been Capello’s first choice. Despite good form for his country, the former Norwich stopper would have been disgraced with himself for being the first England goalkeeper to be sent off against Ukraine. His age is an advantage over James, and Capello may feel there is little point in playing James who he knows inside out. Green has kept his labouring West Ham side in matches this season and has the experience in playing in must win games.
David James (Portsmouth, 39, caps 49)
James has had a topsy-turvy season, the devastation caused by Portsmouth’s form on the pitch and finances off the pitch has been diluted by the elation of another FA Cup Final. The man dogged with the moniker “Calamity James” for so long is of course no stranger to a defensive mix up. It was he who brought down Thierry Henry at Euro 2004 and conceded a penalty in a horrific series of events. However, James has seemingly put his error prone nature to bed over the last few years and is the most experienced keeper in the running for Capello. The Portsmouth man started in goal more than anyone else in qualifying and is ever reliable for his country.
Joe Hart (Manchester City, 23, caps 1)
If Capello does indeed pick his players on form rather than reputation, Hart may as well be sitting on the plane to South Africa as you read this. Hart has been a revelation on loan at Birmingham and has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season. The youngster’s reflexes and confidence in close range situations stand out in his attributes. Not only does he control his box effectively but he is a specialist shot stopper above anything else, something England haven’t had since Seaman. Capello will also no doubt be aware of Hart’s heroics at the u21 Euro 2009 finals. The 23 year old scored and saved a penalty in a penalty shoot-out against Sweden in the semi-finals.
Paul Robinson (Blackburn Rovers, 30, caps 41)
We all know about that blooper against Croatia, but you can hardly blame him for a bizarre divot in a sub standard pitch. His club manager Sam Allardyce has predictably enough hailed his man as Capello’s number one for the world cup, but Robinson has not appeared in an England shirt in well over two years. Robinson however would look the most likely to be drafted in if any of the above three were injured.
Ben Foster (Manchester United, 27, caps 4)
Ben Foster is always one of the outsiders for an England place, despite being starved of first team football and playing just 12 Premier League games in the last 3 seasons. Foster did indeed start England’s disappointing loss to Brazil in November, and Capello appears to be a fan. Foster also kept a clean sheet in England’s 3-0 demolition of Belarus in qualifying. Any inclusion in the final 23 for Foster would be a surprise though, considering he is effectively third choice for his club and has four goalkeepers in front of him who have both played regular football all season.
Predicted final 23
Green, Hart, James; Terry, Ferdinand, A Cole, Johnson G, Upson, Lescott, Baines, King; Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Carrick, Lennon, Walcott, Milner, J Cole; Rooney, Crouch, Heskey, Defoe