England manager Roy Hodgson formally submitted on Tuesday the 23-man squad that will travel to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine next week, but did he unwittingly give us some clues as to the starting line-up against France on June 11th?
There were no surprises in personnel, but as Hodgson confirmed Phil Jagielka will replace the unfortunate Gareth Barry, who has been ruled out with a groin injury sustained in the 1-0 victory over Norway last Saturday, the squad numbers allocated suggest the former West Brom boss has a clear indication of the team he will pick in England’s opening Group D encounter in Donetsk.
Most intriguingly, Andy Carroll has been handed the number nine shirt, something he has worn with great distinction for Liverpool this season. Ahem.
Nevertheless, it appears a couple of good games are enough to become England’s main man these days, which has me wondering what happened to the glut of strikers in the mid ’90s like Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Fowler, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand and Andy Cole? Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe just don’t cut the mustard.
So with Carroll likely to lead the line against France, the other interesting numbers are that of Gary Cahill (five) and John Terry (six), which would indicate the Chelsea pair are the number one centre-back pairing, as well as the allocation of number eight to Frank Lampard. I won’t ask if Lampard and Steven Gerrard can play together. I won’t do that to you.
It appears a couple of good games are enough to become England’s main man these days, which has me wondering what happened to the glut of strikers in the mid ’90s like Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Fowler, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand and Andy Cole?
As for the 23 as a whole, there can be few quibbles from press or fans alike. Let’s face it, apart from the injured Jack Wilshere, there are no glaring omissions from the squad, which in my opinion renders arguments about those left behind redundant.
People have made the case, for example, that Micah Richards should have been taken, but it is hardly the difference between a championship-winning team and not and besides, Richards couldn’t even get in the Manchester City line-up at the end of the season.
Jagielka replacing Barry, whose unassuming manner will be missed, changes the shape of the squad slightly, swapping a midfielder for a defender (albeit one who has played in a defensive midfield role), but it was certainly preferable to calling up Jordan Henderson.
The fact the Liverpool man was on the standby list shows the relative lack of quality at Hodgson’s disposal, as well as the inclusion in the squad of Defoe, who couldn’t get in the Tottenham team, and Stewart ‘no goals’ Downing.
Beyond a clutch of players, the squad is not up to the quality of its rivals, which, thankfully, many in England seem to have realised. Even a group with France, Sweden and Ukraine will be difficult to negotiate and the inevitable disappointment may well be easier to accept this time around.
England squad for Euro 2012:
Goalkeepers: 1. Joe Hart (Manchester City), 13. Robert Green (West Ham), 23. Jack Butland (Birmingham City).
Defenders: 12. Leighton Baines (Everton), 5. Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 3. Ashley Cole (Chelsea), 2. Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 14. Phil Jones (Manchester United), 15. Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), 6. John Terry (Chelsea), 18. Phil Jagielka (Everton).
Midfielders: 19. Stewart Downing (Liverpool), 4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), 8. Frank Lampard (Chelsea), 16. James Milner (Manchester City), 20. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), 17. Scott Parker (Tottenham), 7. Theo Walcott (Arsenal), 11. Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Strikers: 9. Andy Carroll (Liverpool), 21. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), 10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), 22. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).
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