UEFA Euro 2012 is now in the past – and doesn’t it feel like it?! – and it’s time to embrace the new football season. To get us started, here’s the new England squad depth analysis for July 2012, the first in the wake of Roy Hodgson’s first tournament as England manager. For the last couple of months this feature was on hold as we could assume, falsely but conveniently, that Hodgson had a 23-man squad in mind, because they were in a hotel with him in the Polish city of Krakow.
Now, the 2012 squad is in the rear view mirror and the road ahead could bring change aplenty.
It is based on the following: recent squads, current form, short- and long-term prospects and any relevant media comment from the England manager. Please note that all of those factors are applied through the filter of my opinion; this is not a statistical or necessarily accurate representation, just an idea of where I believe the squad might be. I welcome sensible debate as a result.
Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy
Jack Butland, David Stockdale
At the team’s defensive base, Scott Carson is demoted to outsider thanks to the phenomenal rise of Birmingham City goalkeeper Jack Butland. Currently wowing audiences at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Great Britain Under-23s goalkeeper also found his way into the Euro 2012 squad by way of his position on the standby list and a particularly unfortunate injury to Norwich City’s John Ruddy. We’ve got a real talent on our hands in Butland, and if I had my way he’d now be in every squad just for the experience.
It may well be that Butland, whose handful of first team appearances to date have all come on loan at Cheltenham Town, is already pushing Ruddy in the mind of Hodgson thanks to his performances between the posts for Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain at the Olympics.
Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Glen Johnson, Kyle Walker
Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Kieran Gibbs, Micah Richards
Chris Smalling, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Martin Kelly, Steven Caulker
The worst of his injury problems hopefully behind him, Tottenham Hotspur’s adventurous right back Kyle Walker is a shoo-in for the England squad, particularly given the presumably ongoing absence of others. Something’s got to give in that case, and that’s not going to be Glen Johnson, who enjoys a stay of execution thanks to both the apparently privileged position of Liverpool players in Hodgson’s mind, and his respectable performances at Euro 2012. Phil Jones, therefore, drops to the fringe.
I had thought that John Terry’s international career would be over by the time I wrote this update. His court case was looming, but so too was a major tournament with all the potential in the world to go horribly wrong for the former captain. A couple of months later and Terry has been cleared in court and arguably England’s best defender at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. He’s not going anywhere just yet.
Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Ashley Young
Aaron Lennon, Jack Rodwell, Michael Carrick, Jack Wilshere
Adam Johnson, Joe Cole, Tom Cleverley, Scott Sinclair, Jordan Henderson
The international future of Michael Carrick remains in question after his reluctance to be a back-up or even a substitute for the Euro 2012 squad, a perceived snub that might well sit badly with Hodgson. It’s difficult not to sympathise in part with Carrick’s grievance – his form last year was better than some of those who edged him out – but the attitude that leads to eventually missing out in spite of a spate of squad injuries is a shame for all concerned. I’d be surprised to see him in the squad for the Italy friendly.
I’ve promoted Scott Sinclair into the ‘fringe’ category purely on the basis that he now has a really solid Premier League season under his belt with Swansea City and remains in the spotlight thanks to Great Britain’s participation in the Olympics, where he’s doing himself no harm at all. Jack Wilshere returns to the list – he will, presumably, return from injury sooner or later.
With the likes of Sinclair, Wilshere and Tom Cleverley lurking, some of the more established players will need to start looking over their shoulders. Stewart Downing was an unpopular inclusion in Hodgson’s first squad and it turned out he might as well not have gone to Poland and Ukraine at all. Gareth Barry’s injury, on the other hand, undoubtedly affected Hodgson’s plans, but if Hodgson now welcomes some of the younger players then the Manchester City midfielder has one hell of a fight on his hands.
Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Darren Bent
Jermain Defoe, Daniel Sturridge
Despite being selected for the European Championships I’ve dropped Jermain Defoe out of the 23-man squad in favour of Aston Villa striker Darren Bent. For my money Bent would be in Hodgson’s squad ahead of Defoe ten times out of ten, if only he could maintain his fitness. His major injury problem now behind him, I’d argue he’s likely to feature against Italy. That said, he is currently injured. No surprises there.
Apart from that there’s no reason for immediate change. You know what you get with both Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott, while Danny Welbeck is nailed on for Hodgson’s squad and Andy Carroll did enough in his brief Euro 2012 appearances to avoid being dropped. If Daniel Sturridge keeps scoring goals like his chip against United Arab Emirates at the Olympics then he’ll be in with a great shout as well. Let’s hope he’s working on his decision making.
That’s my take…what’s yours?