OK, two proper games coming up – unusually, our opening game with Bulgaria is being played on a Friday night, presumably because the England squad don’t want to miss MK Dons v Hartlepool in League 1 on Saturday lunchtime. Let’s start with the squad:
Goalkeepers: Scott Carson (West Brom), Ben Foster (Birmingham), Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Matthew Upson (West Ham)
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), James Milner (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Forwards: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Carlton Cole (West Ham), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).
*Â The goalkeeper situation for the next decade isÂ basically Joe Hart and anyone who’s ever played goalkeeper before. Fab’s sudden realisation that Hart is the best keeper we’ve got is arguably six months too late and is a tacit admission that he made a mistake with his choicesÂ at the the World Cup. I’ll be amazed if either David James or Robert Green ever play for England again: Joe Hart could end up rivalling Peter Shilton in terms of talent and longevity.
* 16 players made the provisional 30 strong squad that was named before the World Cup;Â Darren Bent, Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott are back in contention after having missed the cut for the final 23 for South Africa. Personally I thought that eitherÂ JohnsonÂ or Walcott should have gone to the World Cup and that Darren Bent didn’t really get a realistic chance to impress in the friendly against Japan – in retrospect, a game where the alarm bells really should have started ringing very loudly indeed.
* Of the players that didn’t decide to either retire or declare their permanent ineligibility after the World Cup, Joe Cole, Robert Green, Ledley King and Steven Warnock were all in the final World Cup squad but are missing this time. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand (again)Â and Bobby Zamora are all missing for injury reasons, although rumours that LampardÂ is having psychological treatment aimed atÂ persuading him never to take a penalty againÂ are unfounded. Cole (J) is going to find it hard going to get back into the squad – his decision to move to a Liverpool team that already looks even more lacklustre than last seasonÂ may have an adverse affect on his England chances.
* Why is anyone from West Ham still involved in the England team? Bottom of the Premiership already having scored one goal in three gamesÂ and with a goal difference of -9. If Matt Upson and Carlton ColeÂ wereÂ trulyÂ international standard players then they would have at least been linked to moves to Manchester City. The Hammers are worse than Wigan right now; perhaps Fab should give Chris Kirkland and Victor Moses a look before he announces the next squad.
Our record at home against Bulgaria is OK: they’ve never beaten us (home or away) but in our four games with them at Wembley we’ve won two. Our last win came in March 1996 – when Les Ferdinand scored the only goal – but the last time we played them competitively was in a 0-0 draw in October 1998 in a Euro 2000 qualifer.
I’ll take a look at Bulgaria later in the week but for those of you that can’t wait to find out some interesting facts about them, neitherÂ that bloke who looks like a werewolf or Dimitar Berbatov play for them any longer.
That bloke who looks like a werewolf.
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