Pete South reports on a couple of players who will be fans for the evening…
Rio Ferdinand and Jermain Defoe have been left out of Fabio Capello’s England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on Friday.
Ferdinand has struggled with injury so far this season and only recently made his comeback for Manchester United against Stoke two weeks ago, and was a substitute in United’s last Premier League encounter against Norwich.
With Gary Cahill and United team-mate Phil Jones in the squad along with Everton’s Phil Jagielka and captain John Terry, there was no room for the former Leeds and West Ham defender who will now target securing regular first team football with his club as he works his way back to full match fitness.
Defoe has begun the season well with Tottenham Hotspur and appears reinvigorated after a poor campaign last time round, but his two goals in five games so far this season were not enough to persuade Capello to select him, with the Italian instead preferring Danny Welbeck and Bobby Zamora to join Darren Bent, Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll in the striking department.
England are the football betting favourites to top Group G after back to back wins against Bulgaria and Wales last month moved them six points clear of 2nd placed Montenegro.
Elsewhere Steven Gerrard is not risked after he recently made his comeback with Liverpool after a six month lay-off, but Ashley Young is included despite not playing in Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Norwich because of an ankle knock.
Spurs fullback Kyle Walker rounded off a good week by being called up by Capello hours after he had helped his side claim a memorable win over North London rivals Arsenal with a 25-yard strike while Frank Lampard is also in the mix having responded to being dropped by both club and country in recent games with an emphatic hat-trick against Bolton on Sunday.
England need just one point from their trip to Montenegro to qualify for Euro 2012, however Capello insists his side will go all out for the win.
“If you play for a draw it is a big mistake, you are defending a result and it is easy then to make silly or stupid mistakes,” he told FATV.
“We need to go to win in Montenegro and not to play for a draw.”
England squad: Scott Carson (Bursaspor), Joe Hart (Man City), David Stockdale (Ipswich); Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Micah Richards (Man City), John Terry (captain, Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham); Gareth Barry (Man City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Man City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Man Utd); Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Danny Welbeck (Man Utd), Bobby Zamora (Fulham)
I’d originally meant to publish this article on Wednesday: although I began it I was unable to get it finished due to a family emergency. Interesting looking back on what I’d written though, so here it is:
‘Nothing more need be said about the Japan game at the weekend. So here’s some very quick thoughts about the final squad that I scribbled at my desk this afternoon:
Got relegated with Pompey, still a bit mistake prone. Last World Cup as a player, next one will be as a pundit.
Hammers got away with being poor last season, like David James he got a lot of practice last season.
The future. Also takes penalties.
Sort of our version of Roberto Carlos.
Stephen ‘not Neil’ Warnock
Wouldn’t expect him to feature much but provides strength in depth.
You know that Nike advert everyone loves that’s got a Simpson’s version of Ronaldo in it? Should have been Rio. Needs to remember he’s in a tournament, not just a few friendlies.
Shouty man. About time we had a defender sent off in the knock out round.
Unexpected selection but should do well.
Might make an appearance in the 3rd/4th place game. See Tony Dorigo in 1990.
Doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone was saying wouldn’t it be great if he was fit, he’d be a shoo in etc. Will be useful if Rio Ferdinand switches off at any point.
Defines ‘unsettled’; hope he doesn’t carry any baggage into the finals. Most likely to be the first to get picked on if everything starts going wrong.’
The midfielders and strikers will be posted soon, but yesterday’s news that Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the tournament after being injured during training may not be as worrying as it first appears. Steven Gerrard will take over as captain and Michael Dawson has replaced Ferdinand in the final 23.
On Wednesday I wrote that ‘we shouldn’t really doubt the fire in his (Gerrard’s) belly, but recently he seems to have mistaken effort for quality – and he can’t do that in the World Cup’. This refers primarily to a reasonable season for a mediocre Liverpool team and I’m sure that he’ll do a fine job replacing Rio. My thoughts on Michael Dawson are that I’m sure he’s got a really promising international career ahead of him, but that on reflection Capello was right to leave him out of the initial selection because Dawson needs another good season with Spurs (especially in the Champions League) before he can be considered a regular. I would expect Dawson to benefit enormously from the experience but would be surprised to see him play.
Before anyone starts panicking about Rio, it’s worth remembering that he played the second fewest league games of his career last season due to a groin injury: I’ve got to be honest and say that I’d rather he was ruled out sooner rather than later as I wasn’t entirely convinced that his fitness was all that it should be. Not only that, we’re not in the same position as Germany are with Michael Ballack, Nigeria are with Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien and Ivory Coast may be with Didier Drogba (and yes, they are all Chelsea players); Rio is an important member of the squad, but his replacements are just as good and - unlike the other nations I’ve just mentioned - our chances will not be diminished due to his injury.
England play their last game at Wembley before leaving for the World Cup Finals against a Mexican side that most of us will next see playing the hosts in the opening game of the tournament.
This will be the first time we’ve played ‘El Tri’ since 2001 (a 4-0 win at Pride Park in Derby if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me) and the Mexicans don’t have a good record in England: we’ve won all four games played here and they have yet to score. Despite that, we actually have quite a lot in common with them: until about half way through the qualifying campaign they were managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson and in the last four tournaments they have qualified from their group only to be unable to get past the second round. So…umm… actually quite a lot in common then.
It used to be quite rare for Mexicans to play abroad (Hugo Sanchez is the only name that springs to mind) but that’s changed. The provisional squad named by Javier Aguirre contained ten players who play their club football in Europe: captain Rafael Marquez and midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos play for Barcelona, defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Salcido (five yellow cards and a sending off in qualifying) are team mates at PSV Eindhoven and strikers Guillermo Franco and Carlos Vela play in this country for West Ham and Arsenal respectively. However, the most intriguing Mexican prospect for years will probably be playing at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool next season: Javier Hernandez (who will only be 22 on 1st June) joined Manchester United recently and is arguably the best striker to have emerged from the country since Sanchez. I’ve not seen him play, but if I was Dimitar Berbatov I’d be on the phone to my agent if Hernandez starts banging them in during the tournament.
Hernandez is more of a long term goalscoring prospect as Mexico don’t really have a dominant striker – the apparently ageless Cuauhtemoc Blanco is 37, neither Franco nor Vela have really done the business at international level and Nery Castillo wasn’t even named in the provisional squad. The short term solution appears to be Alberto Medina, who didn’t play at all in the qualifiers but has scored in two of Mexico’s last three friendlies including the 1-0 win over Chile last Sunday.
I’ll go for an England win, but if we stop the Mexicans from scoring then I think we can look forward to both the Japan friendly and the first game of the finals against the USA with a lot of confidence. Another point to remember is that the Mexicans are tight defensively and have a decent track record in the World Cup – it would not be a huge surprise if they beat South Africa in the opening game – and so we may have to be patient. And no booing Jamie Carragher either.
In other news, Gary Linekerdecided to leave The D**ly M**l as a football columnist this week…Diego Maradona ran a journalist over (as far as we know it wasn’t one from the Mail)…Michael Ballack and Lassana Diarra won’t be playing in the tournament, which is a shame as I really wanted to use ‘Ballack’s Out’, ‘Never Mind The Ballacks’ or ‘What A Load Of Old Ballacks’ as article titles. It’s also a shame that we won’t be treated to a French player running around with ‘Lass’ on the back of his shirt, but you can’t have everything can you ;-)
While the coaches of the other 30 nations taking part in the World Cup next month are still mulling over their squads, New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert and Japan’s Takeshi Okada have already named their 23 man squads.
New Zealand’s All Whites contains six British based players: captain Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), fellow defender Tommy Smith (Ipswich) and strikers Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough) and Chris Wood (West Brom). Midfielder Michael McGlinchey plays for Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League.
Interestingly, Japan’s squad – which will be facing England in a couple of weeks so we’ll look at them in depth at that point – includes only four players based outside the J-League.
Quite a few friendlies featuring qualifiers this week: Mexico face Senegal at the Azteca in the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time; they also play Angola on Friday, the same day that Germany play Malta.
Stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll be looking at our 30 man squad whilst trying to watch the second leg of the Nottingham Forest v Blackpool play off semi final. At time of writing it looks as if it will include a middle aged man nicknamed ‘Calamity’ in goal, several injured centre backs and a German with a Canadian accent who has played about five minutes in the Premiership this season. Oh and I almost forgot: our talismanic striker has a groin strain.
It wouldn’t be the World Cup if everyone was fit though, would it?
By the way – Chelsea 8, Wigan 0? That’s a baseball score. Wigan should be ashamed of themselves.
Difficult not to feel some sympathy with Spain, given our record for pre-tournament injuries, especially when the player involved could have been one of the stars of the World Cup…but Fernando Torres is set to miss six weeks after undergoing surgery for a torn cartilage in his right knee.
Weirdly, Torres was one of the first Panini stickers I got with my free album today – so Javier Mascherano, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Steven Pienaar and Rio Ferdinand might be also be cursed.
Incidentally, having watched almost the entire Spurs v Chelsea game last night (including Drogba’s bizarre ‘groin injury’ performance after half time) I’m now convinced that Michael Dawson of Spurs needs to be in the England squad. The problem for Dawson is that we only have two friendlies left…against Mexico at Wembley on Monday May 24th and versus Japan at the UPC Arena (in Graz, Austria) on Sunday May 30th.
The fallout from Arsenal’s midweek UCL game against Barcelona continues: now Arsene Wenger and French head coach Raymond Domenech are getting all livid over the injury that has ended William Gallas’ season. Wenger’s argument for risking Gallas is that it’s Arsenal that pay Gallas’ wages not France, which is fair enough I suppose although I can imagine Wenger sulking publicly if an Arsenal player was injured playing in an international. In any case, Domenech is not universally popular in France (or Ireland for that matter) and Les Blues are currently about eighth favourite for the tournament; if France fail spectacularly and Arsenal don’t win the Premiership this season, maybe Wenger and Domenech could swap jobs.
Oh and it’s Man Utd v Chelsea in a couple of hours in case anyone forgot. Hopefully no-one else from the England squad gets injured.
Fabio Capello has addressed the problems caused by the injuries to England’s key defenders in a radical and unexpected way, by calling up lower league defenders Leigh Bromby of Leeds United and Mike Edwards of Notts County for an end of season England training squad. Edwards was recommended to Capello by new Ivory Coast manager Sven-Goran Eriksson whilst Bromby came to his attention after a conversation in a pub car park with Bryan Robson, the current manager of the Thai national team. Bromby’s defensive qualities plus his long throw (known as the ‘Brombomb’ to Leeds fans) would no doubt provide ammunition for Peter Crouch.
In other news, Wayne Rooney’s injury isn’t as bad as it might have been: minor ligament damage, which will keep him out of the Manchester United team for the top of the table clash with Chelsea tomorrow. However…Sid Fibreglass is out for the rest of the domestic season after picking up an injury during Arsenal’s dramatic draw against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday and current thinking is that he has a chance of making the Spanish squad for the finals.
More later, but Wayne Rooney picked up an ankle injury last night in the Champions League game against Bayern Munich in Germany. Nobody seems to have any real information about how bad the injury is, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll play for Manchester United against Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime. What impact the injury will have this summer is also unknown; if it’s serious, we’re in big trouble.
David Beckham has been ruled out of the 2010 World Cup after tearing an Achilles tendon towards the end of Milan’s Serie A game with Chievo last night.
Having listened to various radio interviews with sports injury specialists last night, this injury isn’t one of the ‘he might be available at the end of the tournament’ types that the England team has suffered before: this is more along the lines of ‘he might play again.’
While it is undoubtedly a personal blow for Beckham – had he gone to South Africa it would have been his fourth finals, an English record – whether or not it is a blow to the team’s chances is up for debate. Beckham’s loss may be Theo Walcott’s gain.
More later: the other thing that springs to mind is that Adam Johnson scored a Beckhamesque goal for Manchester City at Sunderland yesterday and may now be in consideration for a late, late call up.
First the squad, then the opinion:
David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Birmingham City, on loan from Manchester City)
Wes Brown (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Matt Upson (West Ham), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke), Leighton Baines (Everton), Steven Warnock (Aston Villa)
James Milner (Aston Villa), David Beckham (AC Milan), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (probable captain, Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)
Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Peter Crouch (Spurs), Carlton Cole (West Ham)
We’re almost 100 days until the World Cup kicks off and Wayne Bridge’s decision to rule himself out of further contention for the England team plus injuries to Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are casuing a major defensive headache. Injuries are one thing – and to be honest, it would have been a miracle if we’d gone into the tournament without any – but for an established international like Bridge to have withdrawn as a consequence of John Terry’s off-field behaviour vindicates the decision by Sr. Capello to look for on-field leadership elsewhere.
To his credit, at the end of last week Sr. Capello made it clear that if Bridge was to reconsider his decision, the Manchester City defender would be welcomed back to the squad. I really hope we haven’t heard the end of this because I think we may need Wayne Bridge this summer, especially as all sorts of rumours are flying around about Ashley Cole’s mental state following Cheryl Cole’s decision to end their marriage. If Cole (A) is neither mentally nor physically fit this summer then he shouldn’t go to South Africa at all.
To cap it all, one of the defensive replacements has a lot of back page coverage this morning. I didn’t see Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Aaron Ramsey (I was in the kitchen listening to the game while I cooked dinner) but as soon as I heard the commentary I was instantly reminded on a similar injury that occurred about a decade ago at my local club. Shawcross got an instant red card and left the field in tears. A few hours later he got his England call up.
Apart from the casualties listed above, Glen Johnson and Aaron Lennon are also injury concerns at the moment, thankfully Gary Cahill is on the mend after suffering a health scare with a blood clot, but Joe Cole is missing again, simply because he’s not playing regularly for Chelsea. Intriguingly, Theo Walcott returns to the squad and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an appearance at some point on Wednesday; his last chance to impress Capello perhaps.
To put all of this into some kind of perspective, if you think England’s preparations have been hampered by scandal and injuries, Chile have cancelled both of their friendlies that were scheduled for Wednesday after the country was hit by a massive earthquake on Saturday morning – the strongest one to affect the country for 50 years, which was the biggest ever recorded. We also haven’t sacked our manager – Vahid Halilhodzic was dumped by the Ivory Coast on Saturday, fuelling speculation that Guus Hiddink would take over for their World Cup campaign, although I don’t think Bora Milutinovic is busy at the moment.
We’ll have a look at the Egypt squad on Tuesday evening – the game will be live on ITV in the UK everywhere other than Scotland (kick off at 8pm GMT) and although we haven’t decided to run one of our infamous live blogs for this game yet, we’ll let you know on Tuesday.