Like the studio stage of American Idol, we’ve looked at the idiots who never really had a chance and were in it for a laugh (David Wheater), we’ve seen the good but not good enough fall by the wayside (Stewart Downing and Bobby Zamora), and now we’re into the last stage before the competition proper begins – the competition to get into England’s final 23 man squad.
The Goalkeeper position is probably England’s weakest with serial clanger-dropper David James still hanging grimly on alongside improving but still vulnerable Joe Hart and Robert Green who would surely have been in a relegation team in any other season. Unlike Ridley Scott’s new epic vision of Robin Hood, It doesn’t fill an Englishman’s heart with confidence to see these men in green lining up on their side. Hart is probably the best of a bad bunch.
In Defense, teacher’s pets Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry were always going to be named although look at the ill-disguised joy felt throughout the country this week when it was feared that Terry had fractured his foot. What other team would be celebrating the absence of an integral part of the team in this fashion? That said, Terry has been a fortunate beneficiary of the injury problems of Ferdinand, King and Jonathan Woodgate. The restoration of King and Carragher were probably the biggest surprises along with the inclusion of Upson, who like Green should really have been en route to Scunthorpe and Swansea next year, and Stephen Warnock – an average at best full back.
The Midfield selection picks itself but it’s good to see developing talent like Milner, Walcott, Huddlestone and Adam Johnson making its way to the surface. At the time of David Beckham’s injury my first thought was who this opportunity was going to fall to, and is often the way, would then make themselves an integral part of the team, let alone squad and it looks like Johnson could be the man. Hopefully, as it will also net Middlesbrough an extra million pounds if he makes his England debut, as he should in one of the imminent friendlies against Mexico and Japan.
The striker situation is similar to the goalkeepers except we have one true world class gem in Rooney here – sadly for Crouch, Bent and Defoe who have all had fine season, Cappello’s tactical pragmatism means a place and a shirt for the otherwise eminently overlookable Emile Heskey – the genuine immovable object to Rooney’s irresistible force.
For my money, Dawson, Huddlestone, Parker, Bent, Baines, Wright-Phillips and Warnock will be the unlucky men when the plane takes off for Cape Town but Cappello has sprung surprises before and I expect he will again before this tournament is over.
Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.