Ferdinand Out, Dawson In…

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:

David James

Got relegated with Pompey, still a bit mistake prone. Last World Cup as a player, next one will be as a pundit.

Robert Green

Hammers got away with being poor last season, like David James he got a lot of practice last season.

Joe Hart

The future. Also takes penalties.

Glen Johnson

Sort of our version of Roberto Carlos.

Stephen ‘not Neil’ Warnock

Wouldn’t expect him to feature much but provides strength in depth.

Rio Ferdinand

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.

John Terry

Shouty man. About time we had a defender sent off in the knock out round.

Jamie Carragher

Unexpected selection but should do well.

Matt Upson

Might make an appearance in the 3rd/4th place game. See Tony Dorigo in 1990.

Ledley King

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.

Ashley Cole

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.

New Zealand & Japan Name Squads

by on May 10, 2010
in Lists, Squads

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.

Squad For Egypt Friendly Announced

by on February 28, 2010
in Chile Earthquake, Friendlies

First the squad, then the opinion:

Goalkeepers:
David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Birmingham City, on loan from Manchester City)

Defenders:
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)

Midfield
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)

Strikers
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.

Finally, a couple of follow up stories: there have been charges in the Salvador Cabanas shooting and it looks as if wounded Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale may be on his way back to France at last.

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.

For Whom The Bell Tolls…

It seems that you can’t watch TV or read a newspaper in the UK without being told about John Terry’s latest indiscretions so here’s a link to the Daily Mirror report.

The only real football interest in the story is what Fabio Capello will do. The new story – combined with other issues – has dented Terry’s credibility as captain (to put it mildly) but some of the names that have been suggested as replacements are hardly paragons of virtue. Unfortunately it seems that the press seem to think of the captain of the England team should be some kind of knight in shining armour; which is a lesson that any professional footballer with either aspiring to or currently occupying that position ought to remember the first thing in the morning when they wake up or last thing at night when they go to bed.

It was interesting watching ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ on BBC2 this morning as Sophie Raworth was the guest presenter, presumably meaning considerably less embarrassment for the BBC as Marr had one of these so-called ‘super injunctions’ overturned a few weeks ago. Arguably that should have set alarm bells ringing in certain quarters, but if you are arrogant enough to think you can get away with everything up to and including trying to gag the press…

In other news…Togo have been banned for the next two African Cup of Nations tournaments after they withdrew from the 2010 tournament (that ends today) because their bus was attacked by gunmen. Fortunately reserve keeper Kodjovi Obilale is making an excellent recovery from the gunshot wounds he received in the attack. Ghana face Egypt later in the final: the semi-final between Algeria and Egypt ended with the latter defeating the former 4-0 and the Algerians finishing the game with eight players. Not letting Algeria have any time on the ball and going for an early goal might be the way forward for our Group C game against them (Friday 18th June, 7:30pm GMT); expect a lot of impassioned gesturing, rolling around and sulking – and the Algerians may also try something like that.

More good news: Paraguay striker Salvador Cabanas – who was shot in a bar in Mexico City last week – is also making good progress although his participation this summer is highly doubtful. It appears he was shot following an argument with a known Mexican gangster who accused Cabanas of not scoring enough goals for Club America.

And finally…Arsenal v Manchester United this afternoon. In 3D if you’re lucky enough to live near one of the bars with the equipment.

Squad For Brazil Game Announced, As Are More Injuries…

by on November 9, 2009
in Friendlies

Here’s the squad for the game on Saturday (ITV, 4:15pm):

Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Robert Green & Joe Hart

Defenders: Wayne Bridge, Wes Brown, Gary Cahill, Glen Johnson, Joeleon Lescott, John Terry, Matt Upson & Steven Warnock

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Shaun-Wright Philips & Ashley Young

Forwards: Darren Bent, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe & Wayne Rooney

Missing: Ashley Cole (fractured leg, will apparently miss a few weeks),  Carlton Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard (who – despite being supposedly injured - started on the bench at Anfield before being used as a sub v Birmingham this evening), Emile Heskey, David James and Aaron Lennon. David Beckham will be missing due to LA Galaxy’s playoff game against the CIA’s team in Texas, Houston Dynamo.

A point worth making here: despite currently being placed second in the Premiership, there are no players from Arsenal.

Dunga announced the Brazil squad last week and contains no domestic players because Serie A (the Brazilian version) is coming to a climax; with four games left, there are only six points between the top six clubs.

The Brazilian squad:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Milan), Doni (Roma)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool), Juan (Roma), Maicon (Inter), Michel Bastos (Lyon), Lucio (Inter), Luisao (Benfica) & Naldo (Werder Bremen)

Midfielders: Alex (CSKA Moscow), Julio Baptista (Roma), Elano (Galatasary), Josue (Wolfsburg), Lucas (Liverpool), Kaka (Real Madrid), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos) & Fabio Simplicio (Palermo)

Forwards: Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Nilmar (Villareal), Robinho (Manchester City) and Clive Tyldesley’s favourite Givanildo Vieira de Souza (aka ‘Hulk’) of FC Porto.

More later in the week, but before anyone gets carried away, our record against Brazil is pretty ropey. Since we first met in 1956, we’ve won three times in 22 games, the last victory was almost 20 years ago when ‘Match Of The Day’ anchorman Gary Lineker scored the only goal of the game and Dunga was a player rather than the manager; we’ve lost three of the last five against them.

Lastly, on a sad note, it looks very much as if Dean Ashton of West Ham United and England will have to retire at the ridiculously young age of 25; he sustained an ankle injury at an England training camp in 2007 which he’s never fully recovered from.

Squad Announced For Slovenia/Croatia game

by on August 31, 2009
in World Cup 2010

The England squad for the friendly at the weekend against Slovenia and the penultimate home qualifier versus Croatia was announced on Sunday night. The starting eleven will probably look similar to the one that drew with Holland at the start of August with Wes Brown replacing the injured Rio Ferdinand (thigh strain).  Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch (now both of Spurs after the latter moved from Portsmouth) were the only notable additions while neither Theo Walcott and – perhaps less surprisingly -  Michael Owen were called up. Walcott’s absence means that Arsenal do not have a single player in the current England squad: Joleon Lescott’s rather acrimonious transfer from Everton to Manchester City means that City now have four players involved for the forthcoming games.

Apart from Rio there are no significant injury worries: the same can’t be said for the Croats, who lost Spurs’ Luka Modric for at least six weeks when he broke his leg at the weekend. It’s hard not to have mixed feeling about this: on the one hand Modric’s absense might make our task easier but on the other his undoubted ability might have made the game more exciting and unpredictable.

The current lead in Group 6 might well be cut to four points on Saturday as Croatia have a qualifier on Saturday against Belarus in Zagreb (7:30 GMT, apparently no plans to show it on TV); earlier that afternoon Andorra travel to Ukraine. More to come about those games and the rest weekend’s qualifiers later this week.

In terms of the squad’s performance in Premiership form so far, the situation is very encouraging. Fourteen of the 24 players called up by Fabio Cappello come from the current top four clubs at the time of writing and there have been 18 goals throughout the squad, with Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney having scored four each. Surprisingly, defenders currently lead the midfielders by four goals to three, largely due to Glen Johnson’s pair of goals for Liverpool.

11 of the 14 Premiership assists from the England squad have come from the midfield with Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon contributing two each.

Discipline has been reasonably good so far, although both Wayne Rooney
and Ashley Young have both picked up two yellow cards in the Prem this season. However, top of the naughty list is a Mr David Robert Joseph
Beckham of LA Galaxy, who received a straight red card v Seattle on 16th August but scored the winner against Chivas at the weekend: coming so soon after the well reported incidents with the Galaxy fans, this might be a situation that needs to be monitored.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Foster (Manchester United), Green (West Ham), Robinson (Blackburn)

Defenders: Johnson (Liverpool), Brown (Manchester United), Upson (West Ham), Terry (Chelsea, capt), Lescott (Manchester City), A Cole (Chelsea), Bridge (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Lennon (Spurs), Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Barry (Manchester City), Lampard (Chelsea), Carrick (Manchester United), Gerrard (Liverpool), A Young (Aston Villa), Milner (Aston Villa)

Strikers:Rooney (Manchester United), Heskey (Aston Villa), Defoe (Spurs), C Cole (West Ham), Crouch (Spurs).

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