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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cutting seven is easy enough in predictable England World Cup squad

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The provisional England squad for the World Cup contains few surprises, with certainly nothing on the scale of Theo Walcott's inclusion last time. The inclusion of Carragher means that there is cover in the centre and at right-back and is a mild surprise given his international retirement; his inclusion could point to England travelling with just seven defenders to allow for a fifth attacker. As it is in attack that the squad looks thin.

To be honest cutting seven names is not difficult. The fact is that England will probably not use six or seven players that do make the 23 as there simply isn't a massive depth of high quality England players fit and available to Capello.

England's 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup finals:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.

England will take three goalkeepers - so barring injury these three are on the plane.

Making up the numbers: Hart.

Defenders: Leighton Baines, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock.

Depending on the balance of the final 23 England will take 7 or 8 defenders. The probable first choice back-four of Cole, Johnson, Terry and Ferdinand appear certainties unless a back or knee flares up. Ledley King has looked phenomenal in recent weeks and Jamie Carragher wouldn't be in this squad if he weren't guaranteed to make the last 23 as well. Which leaves one or two places. You would imagine that a second left-back would be essential, with perhaps Baines ahead of Warnock. If Capello feels he needs a fifth centre-half then the dependable Upson will probably get the nod over Dawson.

Making up the numbers: Baines, Carragher.
Missing out: Warnock, Dawson and Upson.

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Twelve midfielders, split roughly between central and wide players - with Milner crossing that divide - need to be chopped down to eight. Gerrard, Lampard and Milner are the only certainties as too many others have had injury interrupted seasons to be sure.

Gareth Barry would go if fit, but that seems far from certain - and I would guess that Michael Carrick will get the nod over Tom Huddlestone or Scott Parker as midfield cover given this doubt. On the wide right-hand side Aaron Lennon seems a likely pick; leaving Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips as the understudy choices - and I reckon that Walcott's natural ability is likely to outweigh a disappointing season. On the left Joe Cole's performance on the Capello Index (!?) points to his inclusion and with Johnson able to switch to the left perhaps he will be the surprise package of the final squad. Although if Barry is fit he could be considered a more steady left-sided option as well as bolstering the centre.

Making up the numbers: Carrick, Walcott, Johnson
Missing out: Wright-Phillips, Huddlestone, Parker and either Johnson or Barry.

Forwards: Darren Bent, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney.

Fundamentally Rooney plays from the start of each match and Defoe comes on if England need a goal. Crouch or Heskey would offer support to Rooney - either from the bench (if Capello pushed Gerrard forward) or from the start. Bent is the wildcard, on the back of a lot of goals this season his inclusion seems reasonable. On the face of it he would offer direct cover for Rooney - he is also prolific at Sunderland alongside a muscular partner - and England cannot be sure that Rooney's groin, ankles, metatarsals or whatever will hold out.

Making up the numbers: Bent, Heskey.
Missing out: Possibly Bent.

*Is this the final 23, or is a player coming from the ones I've cut or from outside this 30 altogether? Let us know!

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Antony Melvin



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