Well the 30 players named in Fabio Capello’s England squad have had multiple trainng sessions and two games to earn their place on the plane to South Africa.
Now is the time that this squad must be trimmed to 23 players, meaning that 7 players will soon receive the dreaded phone call ending their World Cup dreams for at least four years if not forever.
I have analysed the squad and named the squad I would name for the World Cup; based on form, formation and ability.
In my opinion the following players should not make it into the final England squad for the FIFA World Cup 2010.
In an attempt to rationalise and justify my choices, the list below shows the 11 players that I would consider guaranteed a place in the squad.
100% On The Plane
With the goalkeeping spots decided by default, defence is the first area where a reduction in numbers needs to be made.
I will start by deciding who should definitely make the plane, due to the return from international retirement of Jamie Carragher, it can be deduced rightly that due to his versatility and experience, he cannot be left at home.
Alongside Carragher I would also include Ledley King in the squad, he has just about proved his form and fitness during a long and successful season with Tottenham.
With these decisions in mind, I think the first casualty of the squad reduction should be Matthew Upson, after playing consistently in one of the worse defences in the Premier League, he has shown little to warrant selection ahead of Ledley King or Michael Dawson.
I also think that Michael Dawson should be axed, as despite his solid form the inclusion of Jamie Carragher means that England already have four players that can play in the centre of defence.
The defensive quandaries are therefore reduced to deciding who should deputise for Ashley Cole at Left Back.
I would take Leighton Baines as a dependable back up option, with Stephen Warnock missing out in what feels like an unimportant coin flip between the two.
This is probably the hardest part of the decision process, as there are many players who have had flashes of brilliance, yet not shown enough to warrant automatic selection.
On the right there is a choice between Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright Phillips. The guaranteed spot should go to Aarron Lennon who is stronger, more consistent and a better all round footballer than the other two. I would then include Theo Walcott as an impact player from the bench if required.
The other wide options would be made up of James Milner and Adam Johnson who have both excelled this season and can play on both wings.
In the centre, I would make my most controversial choice by omitting Gareth Barry, he is injured and therefore is unlikely to be at his best for the competition. England have had enough experience of playing with unfit players to know it is better to cut their losses on this occasion.
I would replace Gareth Barry with Scott Parker, one of the most underrated players qualified to play for England, there is a reason that he is the only West Ham player not for sale this summer.
Finally I would omit Tom Huddlestone from the squad, opting to include Joe Cole as he offers something creative which in limited Chelsea and England appearances he has shown this season.
Arguably England’s achilles heel, the partnership options involving Wayne Rooney have not quite been resolved. Based on form Emile Heskey is the man to make way, having not scored since February and unable to hold down a regular starting berth at his club, it is time to accept that dispite his obvious qualities, he is not an international class striker.
Therefore Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent and Peter Crouch join Wayne Rooney as England’s striking options.
Overview of Preparations
The most worrying part of England’s preparation for the tournament has to be a lack of depth, with all the questions raised during the recent friendlies; I hope that Fabio Capello has more of a clue of his best 23 than I do.
The only comforter from recent performances is that very rarely are these true indicators of tournament performance.
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