1st June England Squad Announced – Our 23-man Squad Prediction

13th May 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is now just 28 days away from it’s grand opening, when South Africa kick-off proceedings against the Mexicans from North America. The following day, England take on the USA in what is seemingly shaping up as the hardest group game England will face, at least on paper. The plan is; see of the Americans and the last sixteen beckons once again.

Before all the excitement, before the South Africans embrace our TV screens with their uniquely styled opening ceremony; which, if we had to guess, would consist of men and women dressed as lions, amply assisted by lots of dancing and banging of the drums. Anyway, before all the African entertainment, Fabio Capello must yield his axe once more in order to reduce his 30-man provisional squad down to the allocated amount of 23 players on the 1st June.

Capello stated earlier this week that cutting his squad down to size, telling many that they wouldn’t be living the South African dream, would be immensely difficult, “It is difficult and hard for any manager. I am not looking forward to it, especially as everyone wants to go to the World Cup”. You have to admire the Italians honesty, although he gives off the impression that he’s quite cut-throat.  Just 24 hours later, however, and Capello was doing an interview for the Italian press claiming anything less than a final appearance would be deemed a failure. So, if the pressure, the anticipation and the high demands of an English nation, weren’t already bearing down on the England players, it will have certainly hit home after that remark from the gaffer.

Fabio Capello has the luxury, or the misfortune, of two friendlies, whichever way you prefer to look at it – We see all friendlies as useful and very beneficial but we know not everyone agrees with that view, before he reduces his squad by seven on June 1st. The Three Lions take on Mexico on May 24th, just two days after the Champions League final in case you were wondering, and then against the Japanese on May 30th, just two days before Capello announces his final 23-man squad. These two friendlies will be two of the biggest and most important matches in some of the players life’s, as ultimately they will decide whether some folk travel to South Africa with the rest of the team or remain at home watching the World Cup being presented by Gary Linekar.

The two friendlies provide some of the fringe players, those that aren’t assured of a place in Capello’s plans, with a chance to really impress. Of course, there is a large number, probably around 15, that are guaranteed a ticket to South Africa; Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney amongst others, but there is also a handful, nearly half the provisional squad in fact, which are still playing for their 2010 World Cup careers.

Fabio Capello claimed cutting 30 down to 23 would be difficult and we wouldn’t disagree. However, by the same token, we feel some are more worthy of a spot than others, while others simply aren’t worth their place fare.


This is our England World Cup 23-Man Squad Prediction:

Certainties: David James, Robert Green; Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Glen Johnson, Michael Carrick, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Theo Walcott; Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey

So, our ‘certainty’ list contains 13 of the 30 leaving just 10 spots up for grabs.

There aren’t too many surprise inclusions there, with the exception perhaps being Emile Heskey. The Villa forward hasn’t played an awful lot for his club but has featured at the forefront of England’s attack during qualifying, and, for one reason or another, Capello loves Emile. Wayne Rooney, barring any more injuries, will travel with the team to South Africa.

Robert Green looks to have priority over the gloves, not that it would be our choice, while David James, despite being part of the Portsmouth squad which finished bottom of the Premier League, will definitely go to South Africa, as not only is he a decent goalkeeper, he has a wealth of experience that he will impart on the rest of the squad. In fairness, we don’t feel at all at ease with either of those two, and would rather take a chance on another keeper, who we honestly feel was the best in the Premier League last season, in Joe Hart. The latter is a fantastic shot-stopper, has lightening quick reactions and will command his defence more than a puzzled looking Green.

We’ve basically named the defence which will start in South Africa; Glen Johnson at right-back, Ashley Cole at left-back, with Ferdinand and Terry forming a reliable centre-back partnership. That latter statement may not be entirely true if you add their previous club campaigns into the equation. Ferdinand has been injury prone all year, one of the reasons why Capello called up so many defenders for his provisional naming, while Terry has seemingly spent more time on the front pages of the newspaper than the back, and his performances have dipped significantly as a result. The pair are, however, are best centre-backs we have.

There’s no surprises in Midfield, with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard certain to be somewhere in amongst the midfield bunch, while a fantastic seasons for James Milner has resulted in him being guaranteed a place in South Africa, while Milner is also very versatile and can play any number of positions. Gareth Barry, were it not for a recent injury setback, would have been branded a certainty but now looks vulnerable. With that, Michael Carrick is now certain of a spot in Capello’s 23-man squad. Theo Walcott, a player which has massively underachieved this season, is, in our eyes anyway, an absolute must and a player Capello will take to South Africa. Walcott’s blistering pace makes him an obvious stand out, a player which will make things happen, although only off the bench. In the 70th, England chasing a goal, the last thing the opposition defence wants to see is Walcott preparing to come on.

Prominent: Joe Hart; Ledley King, Jamie Carragher, Leighton Baines; Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon; Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe

We will start with Joe Hart, arguably the in form keeper after a tremendous seasons on loan at Birmingham City. Hart was named as one of three keepers in Capello’s provisional squad, and despite the protestation of Sam Allarydce claiming Paul Robinson deserves a trail, Joe Hart is the promising goalkeeper in our pack, the man many hope will claim the England gloves and retain them for years to come. Capello will recognise this and take him regardless of whether he thinks Hart is ready for to start in South Africa.

Ledley King, a defender we do rate and one which many others rate as the very best in England, his only setback is a big setback in that he has a chronic knee conditions which doesn’t allow him to play many games at a time. With King, you will have to use a rotation system around him, and that surely doesn’t bode well for your defence swapping and changing all the time. He’s a good back up, but if the back up then becomes needed on a full-time basis, we would be heavily concerned. Still, after an impressive season with Tottenham, King looks set to travel to South Africa as well. Jamie Carragher may seem a surprise addition from us but his knowledge of the game, of the world-class opponents England will face, his tenacious attitude and, more importantly, his versatility at the back means Carragher is a must in South Africa, especially when you consider that Rio Ferdinand has been injury prone, while the likely centre-half replacement, Ledley King, can’t play successive games.

The left-back area a grey area, as while Ashley Cole is certain to start in that position every game, the fact he hasn’t been back from a leg break for too long means injuries or fatigue could creep in at some stage. Either way, Capello will want cover for Cole and Baines looks the only suitable replacement should England need one.

No-one really knows the full extent of Barry‘s injury, and whether the City midfielder will be fit in time. However, if there’s a chance Barry can make the first game then Capello will take the risk on a player he feels is very reliable and industrious in that holding role behind Lampard. The wings are where the real competition for places are and we feel Aaron Lennon is a shoe-in down that right-wing, while Adam Johnson, who has been in spectacular form since joining Man City in January, simply has to go to South Africa. The only concern with the latter is whether he’s mature enough to handle such high-pressure occasions, but he has bags of class, a locker full of tricks and swivels and will give opposition all sorts of problems if in tip-top shape mentally. However, we reckon the promising young winger will miss out on this occasion unfortunately.

Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey, who aren’t an awful lot dissimilar in what they do, have been in the England squad throughout qualifying, with Crouch often coming off the bench and into the England fray late into the second half in a bid to keep the defenders occupied. Both look set to make the final cut.

Right, we’ve picked 21 so far, meaning just two spaces are up for grabs. The Midfield looks strong on paper,  while all the forward spots appear taken, so a defender will definitely receive a call, while the remaining spot could be Capello’s ‘Red Herring’ pick.

Final Two: Matthew Upson and Joe Cole

We aren’t a huge fan of Upson, not a fan at all in fact, but Capello has been drawn towards Upson for quite some time and has chosen the West Ham skipper as Ferdinand’s replacement when the United defender has been injured. However, we do feel Capello is beginning to have doubts over Upson with the inclusions of Michael Dawson, Jamie Carragher and Ledley King into the 30-man provisional squad, but it looks as though Upson will keep his place as Michael Dawson misses out.

There is always going to be at least one surprise pick, some may feel we’ve highlighted a few already; Emile Heskey and Jamie Carragher for instance, but the one final selection which appears to be an ‘I didn’t see that pick coming’ is Chelsea’s Joe Cole. Granted Cole hasn’t played since 2008, but back then Capello was a big fan of a spirited and combative Joe Cole, a player which wears his heart on his sleeve and gives absolutely everything for the cause. He was one of a select few under Steve McClaren that put in the type of displays worthy of wearing the shirt, and Cole has always been one of those which has been proud and honoured to do so. We think Cole is a must. When backs are against the wall, or you need a player to change the complex of a game, Joe Cole is your man. You will struggle to find a player who will shed more blood and tears on the pitch than Joe Cole.

Missed Out: Michael Dawson, Stephen Warnock, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Shaun Wright-Philips and Darren Bent.

Were these seven names to miss out, you would have to feel a tad sorry for Michael Dawson and Darren Bent, of whom both have had outstanding seasons with their respective clubs. Dawson was instrumental in helping Tottenham to a fourth place finish with some rock-solid efforts at the back, while Bent notched up 24 goals in 38 appearances for Sunderland this season, also proving he has the desired fitness level after starting every single Premier League game for Sunderland. Tom Huddlestone still doesn’t do it for me, and probably won’t for Capello either considering Barry is his first choice in that holding role, with Michael Carrick a close second. If Barry’s fit, Huddlestone doesn’t go. It’s as simple as that.

Adam Johnson has been one of the brightest sparks in the Premiership since joining in January, and is already shaping up as an England star in the making. South Africa, though, while we would love him to go, maybe a step too far, too soon. Scott Parker has been the star in an average West Ham side, and while he does have superb fighting qualities and tremendous character and spirit, there is far too much stiff competition in front of him to really stand out. On the wing, Shaun Wright-Philips shouldn’t even be in the provisional squad. He’s been useless for Man City this season, largely ineffective and hardly a consistent figure when in an England shirt. He does, however, have his moments and were he to shine in the upcoming friendlies, probably would sneak into contention, as Capello does have a soft spot for little Shaun.


Our England 23-man Squad:

Goalkeepers: David James, Robert Green and Joe Hart
Defenders: Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Leighton Baines and Matthew Upson
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Joe Cole
Forwards: Peter Crouch, Emile Heskey, Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney

That’s our 23-man squad prediction. It’s based on our personal views and opinions, before the two crucial friendlies with Mexico and Japan. Some shining performances in those two games and our predicted squad could look a right mess. Even so, we reckon we will be close to spot on come judgement day.

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