England boss Fabio Capello has selected his squad for Wednesday night’s friendly with Egypt. There wasn’t too many surprise names in the squad with the exception of young Stoke centre-back Ryan Shawcross.
The 22 year-old was selected despite an awful incident involving Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
The game against the African champions will be the ideal opportunity for Capello to test out some of his backup players.
He probably already has his starting line-up for the World Cup in his mind. However there are still players capable of making it into that 23 man squad.
There is the much talked about and obvious problem of the left-back spot for England. Inexperienced pair of Everton’s Leighton Baines and Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock are the two mostly likely candidates for the spot at the moment.
Both should be given their chance against the Egyptian’s. Maybe 45 minutes each to prove they are good enough to play at international level. I’ve already sang the praises of the pair in other articles and neither are likely to let England down.
The question is can they keep up their good form at club level. Even if Ashley Cole recovers from injury one of the pair will be likely to be on the plane to South Africa in June. It’s a big few months for the pair that could decide their fate.
Capello is famous for picking his sides on form rather than reputation and he has been true to form with England. Two players that are currently in-form are Aston Villa midfield pair Stewart Downing and James Milner.
Since his recovery from injury Downing has been revitalised and his move to Villa has helped his development. He has been performing consistently well with Villa and has now forced his way back into contention for a place in the national side.
England’s lack of left-sided players is notorious and Downing could be the answer to the left-wing position. However a question mark still remains over whether he is international quality. He should be given a chance on the left of midfield and see how he equips himself. He now has to take that chance.
James Milner is in the form of his life this season and has been playing in the centre of the Villa midfield. He is a versatile player who can also play as a full-back. He could be a crucial squad player at the World Cup. He may not start Wednesday’s game but he has to go to South Africa, if just for the aforementioned versatility.
With doubts over Rio Ferdinand’s fitness over the past few months it’s important for Capello to look at his cover options. I don’t know what he was thinking by calling up Manchester United’s Wes Brown.
I recently wrote an article on how poor he has been for United in recent weeks and the next thing you know he’s in the England squad. That’s football I suppose, but I’d be really concerned if Brown was one of those 23 players who made the World Cup.
The likes of West Ham’s Matthew Upson and Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott are decent back up players, but both have endured injury troubles in recent seasons. Lescott in fact hasn’t played much football for City at all since his summer arrival from Everton. I would like to see Lescott and Upson paired at the back.
They must be the first choice back up for Terry and Ferdinand. It would also be interesting to see young Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross. He has impressed for Stoke at the centre of their defence in the last few seasons and the Ramsey incident shouldn’t sour his call up.
With form in mind Birmingham City keeper Joe Hart must be in with an excellent chance of winning his first cap on Wednesday night. He has been the key to Birmingham winning seven games 1-0 this season. For a youngster he has showed a great maturity and reliability.
He’s been a regular for the England under-21s and surely he now deserves his chance for the full national side. The likes of veteran David James and West Ham’s Robert Green aren’t in the best of form and Hart could take advantage.
One game will not be enough to convince Capello of a player’s quality but for the less inexperienced players at international level it’s a good chance to impress. The likes of Hart, Shawcross, Baines, and Warnock could all gain valuable experience at international level which will stand them in good stead in the future.