- The starting XI for the England U21’s 2-0 victory over Spain in the 2009 Euro Championship
With one of the two World Cup finalists now set for this coming Sunday, England fans will now get the distinct pleasure of picking another European rival to root for as the brilliant Orange face either Spain or Germany for the 2010 accolades.
In England related news however, skipper and Liverpool old boy Steven Gerrard has spoke of his desire to not quit England and vows to make himself available for his country as he nears his thirties. “There is no way I want the disappointment of the Germany game to be my last for England“, Gerrard told Liverpool’s official website.
With such a disappointing performance from the so-called golden generation of English football conveniently in the rear view, Gerrard went on to speak of his understanding that there will be changes in the squad as England look forward to Euro 2012 qualification. But who gets the ax and what new blood get their chance?
It looks as if Fabio Capello will have to make some tough decisions as England look to the future because there hasn’t been an England player to announce international retirement as of yet. Only Gerrard’s Liverpool team mate Jamie Carragher who came out of retirement for one last go ’round has announced he’ll no longer be available – an obvious move for all involved.
Further changes to the current England squad bring up the age old question of the depth of the talent pool in England and whether or not there are enough viable candidates to make the step to the national team. Also on debate here is the question of management v personnel. Written about time and time again is the “who’s to blame” question regarding the England debacle, but regardless of where you stand on the debate, here are a few young players that I believe Capello will want to incorporate into the squad for Euro 2012 qualification in one form or another.
- Adam Johnson – Not breaking any new ground here. Should have been in South Africa because of his poise and effective play on the wing. He’s a young player when it comes to Premier League experience, but Johnson made a big impact for Manchester City last season as soon as he was afforded the chance. Excellent crosser of the ball and a player who deserves a shot at the senior squad ASAP in order to gain valuable experience.
- Michael Mancienne – has stared for the U21’s in tournaments past and is one of the most experienced at that level. The Chelsea man currently on loan at Wolves saw first team football at Molineux at both center back and defensive midfield during the 09-2010 season. Not a bad shout for replacing Rio Ferdinand in both looks and style of play, Mancienne should be considered as at least a squad player in Mr. Capello’s plan very soon as new blood is needed to soon replace an aging back line.
- Lee Cattermole – the midfield hard man has now spent five years in the Premier League making over 120 appearances but has only managed 16 caps for the U21’s. Cattermole’s potential in midfield displays what this England team lacked at the World Cup, an effective tackler of the ball with pace who can protect the back four. Cattermole is a hard worker in the vein of a Nigel de Jong or Javier Mascherano. His desire to get stuck in greatly reminds me of Roy Keane.
- Jack Rodwell – another obvious choice, strong and physical. The Everton youngster made his Premier League debut when he was 16, 2 days short of turning 17. Yet to really settle on his strongest position – central defense, defensive midfielder, or a more attacking midfield role, Rodwell seems to impress wherever he’s employed for Everton. At only 19, Rodwell has made 11 appearances for the U21’s, but possesses the tools needed to excel in the Premier League and possibly at the international level if brought up soon to gain much needed experience.
- Jack Wilshere – the Arsenal attacking midfielder has limited experience at the U21 level only having made five appearances. But the on loan Bolton player has impressed Arsene Wenger enough at Arsenal to stick around at least for now. With the different styles he’s been able to learn from – Arsenal’s all out attack and Bolton’s long-ball defensive set up, Wilshere has the ability to adapt to different formations and will be one to watch this Premier League season as his potential and skill continue to grow.
As much as the heartbreak and dread hurt England fans during the 2010 World Cup, there is still room for optimism among the England faithful. A small core of current England players are still only in their early to mid twenties. Wayne Rooney, Glen Johnson, Jermaine Defoe, Joe Hart, and others form the nucleus to build a Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014 squad around. Lets hope the players make good on their promise and Mr. Capello soon gives them the shot they deserve.