Second guessing Fabio Capello shouldn’t be too difficult…

31st May 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News


Definitely packing their bags: Scott Parker, Stephen Warnock and Michael Dawson

None of the above names played any part in England’s two recent warm up games against Mexico and Japan, leading us to believe that Fabio Capello has no room for any of three nor has he even contemplated including them in his final 23-man squad.

Scott Parker was fabulous for the Hammers last season, the only player to come away from a troublesome season with any credit. Parker is an old-fashioned centre-midfield who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to shed blood for the cause. For his club West Ham, he was inspirational and enjoyed a wonderful run of form in the latter stages of the season, almost single handily dragging the Hammers away from the relegation zone with his gutsy displays and inspired leadership. However, at 29 years-old, Parker, who has just 3 senior caps to his name, isn’t getting any younger, lacks that senior experience perhaps needed to overshadow the fact he applies his trade for a struggling Premiership club and isn’t exactly a player who plays to a high-tempo, something Capello is adamant England need in South Africa, and rightly so.

Michael Dawson should feel mighty hard done by that he wasn’t even given the opportunity to show his value to the Three Lions, failing to make his England début against Mexico or Japan. The 26 year-old enjoyed a sublime season with his club Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, playing an instrumental role in the centre of defence in helping Spurs to their first appearance in the UEFA Champions League. Some were claiming Dawson finishing the 2009-2010 campaign second to only Ledley King as England’s best defender, with his resolute displays ensuring Tottenham ended the season with 13 clean sheets to their name. His tackling has improved, has grown into a defensive leader and is a match for anyone in the air. However, like Scott Parker, Dawson doesn’t have a lot of international experience and in those big games, Dawson’s involvement would bring about a lot of scepticism from the English media.

After failing to get the nod against Mexico at left-back, with Leighton Baines the preferred choice by Capello, Warnock‘s hopes of travelling to South Africa with the England team were dashed when the Aston Villa left-back limped out of training in their Austrian training camp with an ankle injury meaning Warnock wasn’t 100% fit to face Japan. It was unfortunate as Baines hardly impressed against Mexico and the opening was there for Warnock to seize were he fit and able. Of course, he would have only played a part in South Africa had Ashley Cole been struck down with an injury himself.


Likely exclusions: Adam Johnson, Darren Bent and Tom Huddlestone

Johnson only arrived onto the scene in January after completing the switch from Championship club Middlesbrough to the mega rich land of Man City in the Premiership. Everyone knew about Johnson’s talent and potential, but when the former England U21 (19 Caps) completed his move most expected Johnson to play a bit-part role at Eastlands, specifically from the bench. Roberto Mancini had other ideas though and was immediately impressed with Johnson’s exciting game. You would have got huge odds on Johnson being included in the England squad at Christmas but since moving to the Premiership Johnson really has come of age in such a short space of time. The City winger shows no fear on the wing, looking to beat any and every established defender he comes up against. He’s a player with genuine forward aggression and ambition, driving forward with his mazy run with intent and purpose, and in those games were England aren’t making too many inroads, Johnson’s extravagant and infectious presence could spur the rest of the team on. However, age is against him at 22 years-of-age and may well have to wait another four years before he makes his World Cup début.

Darren Bent, despite finishing third to only Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney in the Premier League scoring charts after a fruitful season which brought about 24 goals for the Sunderland striker, finally received his England chance against Japan on Sunday and was once again found wanting. Chances were hard to come by, with only a half-hearted header landing on Bent’s doorstep in a 45 minutes which ultimately convinced Capello once more that Bent isn’t international material. Capello gave Bent the opportunity to shine back in November against Brazil and the Sunderland forward failed to grasp the golden chance then as well. Bent may well find that was his last chance to play in a World Cup as he would need a couple more successful seasons in front of goal to keep his name in the reckoning after flopping at international level on more than one occasion.

Tom Huddlestone was another player which glistened at White Hart Lane with Tottenham Hotspur last season, the rock in the Spurs midfield. Huddlestone has the characteristics to be a fine player; bulky lad with a lot of strength, clam and composed in possession, a great tackler and a rocket of a shot. But his biggest criticism is his pace, or lack of it. Capello handed Huddlestone a starting berth against Japan on Sunday and Tom’s sluggish style become contagious and resulted in the rest of the England team playing in the same slow and dull manner. Moreover, his range of passing isn’t great and it’s difficult to see how Huddlestone will benefit the England team in South Africa considering he doesn’t bring an awful lot of creativity and imagination to the table. Fabio Capello said after the game that England were too slow and had no tempo to their play with Huddlestone in the team, which leads us to believe that the England coach has no interest whatsoever in Huddlestone for South Africa.


Players in danger of losing their ticket: Emile Heskey, Shaun Wright-Philips, Joe Cole, Matthew Upson and Theo Walcott

There are several names which many are debating whether or not they should go, with the likes of Joe Cole, Shaun Wright-Philips and Emile Heskey seemingly on the fringe of the 23. However, we don’t envisage either of three losing their South Africa place.

Shaun Wright-Philips, while he didn’t have the best of seasons with Man City, has been a popular choice with Capello and his energetic and enthusiastic display against Japan on Sunday may have convinced Capello enough to name him in his final 23. His brief spell against Japan on Sunday, while it may have impressed many of the pundits, won’t be enough to save his bacon as he simply hasn’t done enough this year, on a consistent basis, to prove to Capello that he’s a worthwhile addition.

Joe Cole, like we said in an earlier ‘England Squad Prediction‘ topic, is a must and simply has to go with the rest of the England team to South Africa. Cole had 45 minutes against Japan to show his worth, to convince Capello that Cole remains a talented individual and the same player which was earlier deemed one of Capello’s favourites during qualifying before Cole suffered a fatal injury which then hampered his appearances for England and Chelsea. He was bright and lively against Japan, adventurous down the right with his marauding runs and the competitive edge Cole has always had to his game, his unquenchable thirst for success, will eventually be what swings it for Capello when he opts to include Joe Cole in his official squad for the finals.

There isn’t even a debate for us regarding Heskey, as why would a manager not take a player which played such an integral part in getting England into the finals, amply assisting a prolific Wayne Rooney up front. He may not score as many goals as a forward should but Capello isn’t taking Emile for his goals, he knows full well what Heskey is all about and that’s his ability to hold up play with his powerhouse figure. Believe me, Heskey will travel to South Africa as an England player. We would even go as far as saying Heskey will start England’s opening Group C game against the United States.

Matthew Upson wasn’t even tried against Mexico nor against Japan, but Capello knows everything he needs to know about Upson after using the West Ham skipper during a successful qualifying campaign in the absence of Rio Ferdinand. In fact, Upson’s absence from both encounters only leads us to believe that Capello will definitely name Upson in his final 23, although we aren’t entirely convinced with Upson’s defensive abilities. Upson had an indifferent season at Upton Park and doesn’t exactly arrive in camp with an impeccable season under his belt. Nonetheless, Upson has been tried and tested previously and has seemingly ticked all the boxes for Capello.

Theo Walcott, in our honest and brutal opinion, will be extremely fortunate if he receives the call from Fabio saying he’s been included as he doesn’t deserve a spot over players like Adam Johnson and Joe Cole, other right-wing players in the mix which aren’t afraid to bomb forward and take on a defender and can actually deliver a decent cross when they reach the touchline. Walcott simply doesn’t have the confidence to play a prominent role at the finals, with his final balls atrocious. Moreover, his only real asset is blistering pace and while that may see him sprint past some sluggish defenders, Walcott doesn’t have the guile or wit to out think some of the world’s best defenders. Our only plus point with Theo is his pace and that he could prove a super-sub if brought on late in games, but he’s a frustrating sort and could turn out to be the major flop in the England ranks should Capello take him, which we expect he might considering he started both games against Mexico and Japan.

Our casualty prediction (Those receiving the boot from Fabio Capello on Tuesday): Scott Parker, Stephen Warnock, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Darren Bent, Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Philips


England World Cup Squad (23 Players) Odds (This market is based on who Fabio Capello will select in his final 23-man England squad for the final):

Scott Parker – 6.00
Stephen Warnock – 5.00
Shaun Wright-Philips – 4.10
Darren Bent – 4.20
Michael Dawson – 6.20
Adam Johnson – 2.00
Tom Huddlestone – 2.72
Matthew Upson – 1.63

All prices are from Betfair and are expected to change rapidly throughout the course of the day and tomorrow morning.

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* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!

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