Assessing Montenegro’s Chances Against England

by on March 25, 2013
in Previews, World Cup 2014

I’ve got to say that 8-0 was what I was hoping for on Friday, but the best part about that win was the dramatic improvement in the goal difference. Tomorrow’s game is a much sterner test – in his first article for the site, guest contributor Owen Barnes tells us what to expect.

The Montenegrins now stand two points clear of England – however the dismissal of crucial midfielder Nikola Peković may prove costly to their chances of winning tomorrow’s game.

Montenegro started the game against Moldova leading group H, previously beating San Marino 3-0 in a match they dominated. With England trampling over the San Marino side 8-0 we can imagine many English supporters rubbing their hands at tomorrow’s fixture. However, with Stefan Jovetić and Vučinić leading the front line for the national side England cannot afford to be complacent.

The controversial issue with Rio Ferdinand’s absence in previous games may give Montenegro a chance to pounce. Ferdinand has been brilliant for Manchester United in the past month and they may feel his absence against the two technically-gifted strikers. However Hodgson seems confident that the pairing Phil Jagielka and Tim Cahill can deny the Serie A strikers of causing any upsets, despite Moldova only having two shots with none on target.

England will start the game as favourites, with their star man Wayne Rooney scoring six goals in his past four games for the lions. He has shown consistency, which could be the lack of pressure from his club allowing him to focus on his international career, but he will need to be in top form to solve any sticky situations he faces. The potential attacking force of Rooney, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ashley Young can cause serious problems for the opposition’s back line. Link up play from team mates Young and Rooney as well as the pace of Oxlade-Chamberlain will produce goals, assists and flair as seen in the San Marino game.

As the Moldovans came close to scoring within two minutes of the kick off last Friday, the English front three are certainly with the ability of causing havoc for Montenegro. Moldova dealt with the efforts of Jovetić and Vučinić very nicely, but the Montenegrin strikers will also continuously test England’s defence. Having netted 23 goals between them in Italy this season, their total of five shots on target tested the Moldovan keeper Serghei Pascenco, who did well to keep the game at deadlock until the 78th minute, where Vučinić proved his finishing with a scrappy volley inside the penalty box. One possible area for English concern is when Jovetić is standing over the ball in set pieces: when San Marino were in the English half for a corner there was some doubt how England would cope. Thankfully Kyle Walker was able to rescue the lions by dribbling a good 60 yards down the right hand side to put San Marino back under pressure.

With England having an advantage in goal difference, a clean sheet at the Podgorica Stadium would be a real achievement. Hodgson may look at James Milner for stability, which could mean allowing Tom Cleverley to rest. The absence of Jack Wilshere could be costly for the English midfield unless all midfielders put in a good shift. A big test awaits for England and they must maintain possession and keep the ball away from Montenegro’s attacking force.

Predicted score: 2-1 England (Rooney, Lampard) (Jovetic)

Betting odds (SkyBets): England 4/5, Montenegro 7/2.

England Possible Line-up (4-4-2) Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka, Michael Carrick, Leighton Baines; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Frank Lampard, Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe.

A Look At ‘New’ England

by on August 17, 2012
in Friendlies

Guest blogger Lee Clarke runs the rule over Wednesday night’s friendly victory over an experimental Italian side.

England 2 Italy 1 – If only this was a result from a certain major tournament two months ago.

The Three Lions defeat to The Azzuri in Kiev back in June was still fresh in the memory as England took to the pitch to face the team that had caused national heartbreak only 52 days ago.

Even if you are more interested in Premier League betting, you would have noticed that the two sides looked completely different from the Euro 2012 quarter-final in which England were denied a last four berth thanks to a penalty shootout.

Roy Hodgson handed debuts to no fewer than five players in Berne, with the stand out performance of the debutants being second half substitute John Ruddy. The Norwich custodian looked like a 50 cap player when he took to the stage for the second half.

What was really refreshing about Wednesday night’s game was that Hodgson was not afraid to try youth. Albeit mixed with some experience, but we can cope with that.

Jack Butland began in goal becoming the youngest goalkeeper to play for England by some margin. What a summer the young Birmingham goalkeeper has had. League Two with Cheltenham, to third choice England keeper, Olympics and now this. Talk about Roy of the Rovers stuff!

Everyone following Manchester united news will agree that Michael Carrick was a pleasing addition to the starting line-up for the strangely timed friendly in Berne. Carrick played in the position so often occupied for England by the much over-rated Gareth Barry.

Barry is, for me, not fit to lace Carrick’s boots, certainly on the last season and a halves form anyway.

The former West Ham and Spurs man was incredibly easy on the eye during Wednesday night’s game and rarely looks like losing possession when in control of the ball.

Indeed England certainly look to be getting to grips with the new three man midfield which Hodgson likes to employ. Tom Cleverley was the man sitting just behind Andy Carroll against Italy and with more game time at Manchester United he will only continue to improve. You half expect this season could be make or break for the youngster however.

Kyle Walker was a cert for the right-back berth at the Euros before injury ruled out the Tottenham star, he again proved his worth with a solid display, so too did Phil Jagielka. Always a steady performer it was nice to see him step up to the plate on the international stage and cap a fine performance with a first half goal.

One thing is certain about England under Roy Hodgson is that we are now much more difficult to beat and opponents are no longer easily able to grasp our bland style which was so blatantly obvious under Fabio Capello.

With more game time for the Three Lions mix of youthful exuberance and experienced steel we will only continue to get better. Only time will tell just how far the ‘new’ England can go.

France Coach Speaks Out On England Challenge

by on June 8, 2012
in Euro 2012, Previews

Regular contributor Thomas Rooney looks at Monday’s game between England and France.

Those looking to bet live on Euro 2012 will note that It is now just a few days to go until England take on France in their opening match of Euro 2012 and the coach of their opponents has been having his say on the threat the Three Lions possess.

Laurent Blanc, essentially, thinks that England will adopt a physical approach and that his side are in for a tough challenge. After going unbeaten since 2010, France are confident, but they know England will be difficult opponents.

The French boss said: “’They are not at full strength but what concerns me is that England will play in a certain style. We are going to have to be extremely strong physically. That is going to be a difficult match.”

‘“England will give everything because, when there are French against English, it raises the game above the normal international match. But we don’t fear them more than other teams.”

‘It is certainly an interesting theory that England will be physical. They will be well organised yes, but will they be overly physical? It seems a rather bizarre conclusion, but there you go.’

Roy Hodgson’Â’s men will of course look to be solid at the back and hit France on the counter attack, but it mustn’Â’t be forgotten that the Three Lions have some quality players.

If England sit back and let France attack them, it simply wonÂ’’t work. As much as they need to make defensive security their priority, England must be positive going forward and remember that the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Steven Gerrard can be very dangerous.

France are more likely to come out all guns blazing though and for this reason, there could be quite a few goals. England just need to make sure they match BlancÂ’’s men and in the end, a draw wouldnÂ’’t be the worst result.

It is time for the talking to stop and the action to begin. Before it does though, England winger Stewart Downing has spoken about his sideÂ’s lack of fear when it comes to facing the French.

The Liverpool man said: “’We are confident we can get a result. We don’t fear them. We know they are a good team but so are we. We know their strength and weaknesses.’”

It is an interesting comment to say that England ‘know the strengths and weaknessesÂ’ and the French team. It’s clear that France could be devastating going forward,  but does Downing think France are weak in a certain area of defence?

The make up of the England team will probably tell all. Bring on Monday evening.

Hodgson Faces Key Decisions On Captain, Strikers.

Roy Hodgson will be naming the England squad for Euro 2012 on Wednesday – and so Thomas Rooney takes a look at some of the candidates for the crucial positions: team captain and goal scoring options another than the Spud Faced Nipper.

With the European Championships just round the corner, there lots of talk as ever about who should be given the captain’s armband for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Scott Parker is amongst favourites amongst punters looking to trade using this back to lay calculator to lead the side out for the Championships. Parker has been one of the best English players in the Premier League this season and his knack of avoiding controversy means he may be the ideal candidate.

The Tottenham midfielder has only made eleven caps for his country but with his form this campaign will surely be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Parker has made 28 appearances for Spurs this season, despite not getting himself on the score-sheet he has been instrumental for his team when he has played and really seems to make them tick.

The ex-West Ham United man is vital to making sure the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon can get forward as much as possible, filling in the gaps they leave when attacking.

This would be the role he would play for the England side who will want to use the pace of the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Lennon and Adam Johnson a lot throughout the tournament.

Parker will be the player to hold the midfield together and make England play in the same way he does for his club.

Other candidates as far as those over at best betting sites are concerned include Joe Hart. The Manchester City man would also be a decent choice as he looks certain to be England’Â’s number one for the foreseeable future: he’s also a very vocal player and being a goalkeeper, can see the whole game.

England require a leader on the pitch, someone to set an example to the rest of the players and drive the team on. Parker is the perfect man for this role in the team, with Hart as vice captain.

Moving onto attacking options, it’ll be interesting to see if Aston Villa striker Darren Bent is fit for the European Championships this summer after an injury that has kept him out of action since February. If Bent is fit, should Roy Hodgson include him in his squad?

In Bent, England have one of the best finishers the Premier League has seen in recent years. His goals seem to go under the radar sometimes and apart from a slight dip at Tottenham, he has scored regularly wherever he has played.

However at Spurs, he did manage 18 goals in sixty appearances, which is not too bad for the worst goal scoring form of his career. So it should be interesting to see what price Bent is for the Golden Boot in the 2012 euro betting odds.

The Englishman had scored nine times in the Premier League this campaign until he was injured in a game against Wigan, it’s quite safe to say Aston Villa would not find themselves as low down the table as they are if they had a fit Darren Bent at the disposal for the whole season.

The former Sunderland striker is an old fashioned goal poacher, he may only touch the ball a few times in the game but ends up scoring two goals and winning his team the game.

The England side does not have a great deal of players similar to Bent, someone whose sole purpose is to find the back of the net. The other option could be Jermaine Defoe, although he has spent the majority of the season coming off the bench so may be suited to that role during the summer.

If the 28-year-old is fully fit he could be the ideal partner for Wayne Rooney in the later stages of the tournament, he also capable of playing up front on his own during Rooney’s suspension in the first two matches.

Bent and Rooney should go to Euros as the Three Lions two main strikers, with Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch and Daniel Sturridge all waiting in the wings. This front line includes height, pace, strength, skill and finishing – a winning formula.

Update: Hodgson has made one interesting decision today – Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville joins the coaching staff with immediate effect.

Managerial Uncertainty Makes England’s Euro 2012 Odds Look Unappealing

With only a few weeks left to go in the domestic football season, it’s only a couple of months until the start of Euro 2012 and it’s officially time to start our coverage. Who better to kick it off that regular contributor Richard Smith: Richard takes a look at some of the prices on offer for an English success in the tournament…and rapidly comes to the same conclusion as any sane bettor would.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding who will be the manager of the Englandteam at Euro 2012,  bookmakers are getting into full swing by offering a host of betting markets on how theEnglandteam and players will fare at the European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine.

In the betting to win Euro 2012 outright,England are rated as the fourth favourites with most major bookies offering just 9/1. This price is influenced by the weight of the “patriotic pound” that will either have already been wagered or in anticipation from the betting companies but when both France and Italy are priced at 14/1, it is difficult to rate England as “value” and 9/1 is unappealing but nonetheless, loyal fans of the Three Lions will invariably back the team to win the tournament with nothing more than blind faith as the reason.

If England qualify from Group D, a Quarter Final match against either Spain or Italy is likely to await them and if it is Spain, then prospects of progressing really do look bleak.

Spain are expected to win Group C, so to ensure a last eight tie against the runner up in Group C, which is most likely to be Italy, then England will need to win Group D. Should this be the case there is no guarantee that England could or even should defeat Italy, a game in which the Italians would likely be favourites to win but would be considered more “winnable” than if having to face Spain.

In all honesty, any punter thinking with their head would probably resist from backing the Three Lions in the Outright win market, especially with no permanent England manager yet appointed which must impact on preparations, potential squad selection, tactics and opponent analysis . However, if you’re betting with your heart, it’ll be a question of how much to put on England in the hope that Harry Redknapp is appointed at the end of the season and the moral boost from that would be enough to result in a fairytale ending!

Englandto be eliminated at the Quarter Final Stage at odds of 13/8 is proabbly the most likely outcome at this stage!

As far as Group D is concerned, most pundits are predicting an England and France one-two. England are the narrow 13/8 favourites to win the group with France a 7/4 chance, co-hosts Ukraine come next at 9/2 while underdogs Sweden are 11/2.

The key to the Group probably lies in the opening game between England and France on 11th June. France have been transformed under new Head Coach Laurent Blanc, losing only twice in the twenty matches he has been at the helm and one of those was his very first game in charge when he fielded a weakened team following the fallout and suspensions on the back of the 2010 World Cup debacle. They qualified comfortably from their Euro2012 Qualification Group losing just once in their ten qualification games and have since secured “friendly” wins over the USA and more impressively Germany. The French clearly will be no pushover!

England of course qualified unbeaten from their Group and have secured recent wins over Sweden and Spain. However, with Fabio Capello no longer in charge, it has left a number of doubts surrounding the team at a critical time and with no manager yet appointed and the France game fast approaching, the situation looks bleak.

Backing England to top Group D therefore now looks a little dangerous, France have the momentum and as such, could get the better of England in the Group D opener, which would leave England with two difficult remaining games against Ukraine and Sweden but ones where they should be good enough to get the results to qualify in second spot, whoever is selecting the team and tactics! Therefore, a France to finish top, England runners up straight forecast bet at 7/2 looks the best pick of the group markets involving England.

A lot can happen between now and England’s opening game in Donetsk but as it stands, without a permanent manager it is difficult to be optimistic. Stuart Pearce is more than capable of leading the troops but how far in to battle can he take them? It will certainly be an interesting few weeks in between the end of the domestic season and start of the Euros and an even more interesting couple of weeks in Poland and the Ukraine!

Capello’s Striker Dilemma Ahead Of Euro 2012

by on February 8, 2012
in Euro 2012, Fabio Capello

If you’ve come here looking for our take on whether or not John Terry should have been stripped of the England captaincy or not or whether Fabio Capello should leave the England job now, then you might be a bit disappointed. All I’m going to say is that France have a terrific group of young strikers and to be honest,  right now (a freezing cold afternoon in February) it doesn’t matter who the manager is.

Although we’re at the end of the Capello years, he’s still getting paid a decent wage and he’s got some thinking to do before the summer. Guest blogger Richard Smith takes a look at both the Terry issue and an area that always seems to be problematic for the team before major competitions.

As Euro 2012 approaches the England problems seem just on the verge of emerging. Firstly the Wayne Rooney ban which has cost England his services in for the opening two fixtures has been followed by the crass FA decision to remove the captaincy from John Terry.

In some respects, England are lucky that Rooney’s ban was not the original three matches but nonetheless, the absence of the Man Utd striker for two games is bad enough and makes life very difficult to replace him.

As far as the Terry situation is concerned, then the FA have done him nor the national team any favours by going above Fabio Capello’s head and removing him as team captain, due presumably to his impending court case where he has been accused of racism towards Anton Ferdinand. That case is not due to be heard until after Euro 2012 and whilst the full and due process of law is running its course, Terry remains innocent until proven guilty. This is of course unless you are the FA who clearly sees the case as a cut and dry affair and that Terry must be guilty as charged. It is a position that is seen as outrageous by most in football and one that proves if nothing else that the FA are no friends of the individual footballer nor respecters of the England fans nor it seems the due process of law as their action has made Terry look guilty even though he is pleading the opposite.

At least it seems that Terry will be able to wear the Three Lions shirt in Poland and the Ukraine which will be very important for team continuity albeit if you believe what you read in the papers this may not be the case! It is almost a prerequisite that the England preparations prior to a major tournament are disrupted and with five months before the tournament kicks off, it would appear the pantomime has already begun.

Back to team matters, there is already much debate as to who Capello should select as the four for Euro 2012 and with Rooney a definite pick, the other three places are up for grabs.

Darren Bent of Aston Villa is probably the man who holds sway at the moment but his good form of last season has not been so evident this term as his Villa team struggle in mid-division of the Premier League. Bent has scored nine times in the Premier League and managed three England goals during Euro 2012 Qualification.

Jermaine Defoe has been a regular squad member for the last few seasons, but he is struggling to establish himself in the first team at Spurs this season and hasn’t been on the scoresheet for England since his hat trick against Bulgaria in September 2010.

Emerging talent comes in the form of Danny Welbeck of Manchester United and Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea but neither have had a long enough run in the national team to establish themselves and may be considered by Capello as too inexperienced to take. Bent’s team mate at Aston Villa, Gabi Agbonlahor is another player who is just falling short of international recognition and now at the age of 25 one feels his best chances are gone despite him being one of the very quickest players around. Bobby Zamora now of QPR has been given a couple of chances but he is a player who would be more of a last resort than a certainty and at 31 he has seen better days too.

This does not leave Capello very much left to choose from, Andy Carroll of Liverpool showed signs under Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool that he is beginning to mature but is facing mounting criticism for his lack of goals. If the £35m man can continue in that vein as well as find the net a few times before the season ends, then he could make a late run for the squad but as it stands currently, the four strikers would almost certainly comprise of Rooney, Bent, Defoe and Sturridge but with Rooney out for the first two games, it’s safe to say none of the England contingent will be in the reckoning for the Euro 2012 Golden Boot and who starts upfront against France on Monday 11th June is still very much anyone’s guess.

We should have a better idea when England take on the Netherlands at Wembley on 29thFebruary when it will make a refreshing change for football to dominate the back page, let’s just hope it’s positive column inches!

Capello on Hand To See Swans Fly

Easily the best footballing side in the Championship last season, it’s hardly a surprise that Swansea have been attracting a lot of positive attention due to their performances in the Premier League. Thomas Rooney thinks a couple of Swans should be given a chance in the England squad and if the widely predicted changes happen after Euro 2012, Thomas has a point!

While The F.A were busy announcing an upcoming friendly fixtures against Holland, it was Swansea that were evoking memories of the Dutch pass masters of years gone by as they sauntered past Arsenal while Fabio Capello watched on from the rocking Liberty Stadium stands.

Those studying mobile free bets note how Brendan Rodgers’ side have become the feel-good story of the season, and the fairy-tale ending, or at least the pinnacle of their achievements this season, likely came as Danny Graham slotted home the winner against Arsenal recently. Although Capello may have come to cast his eye over Theo Walcott, who despite getting on the scoresheet continues to be an enigma when it comes to producing consistently decent performances.

Although Walcott may have been in Capello’s thoughts before the game it was the Welsh outfit’s band of Englishmen that would have occupied his drive home to the capital after the game.

Scott Sinclair, Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham have all proved themselves wonderfully capable of adapting to life in the Premier League, and soon they will be joined by another precocious talent, Chelsea’s Josh McEachran who completed his loan move from the capital earlier this week.

Graham in particular has thrust himself into the limelight ever since his move from Watford over the summer with his clinical and powerful finishing.

Dyer and Sinclair have long been talents that have been marked for bright futures – few would have envisaged however that they would find a home and room to flourish with a newly promoted side given little chance of survival by the experts. These three fit seamlessly into a side that contains no less than seven men who would be available to Capello, and it is their style of play along with their results that have won them praise this season.

Occupying a large point of the Italian’s mind ever since the draw took place, is of course Euro 2012, and he will already have in his mind an almost fully formed picture of the squad he will take with him into battle once more.

It is unlikely any player wearing the white of Swansea will make it into his final squad. It is their effervescence as a unit that appeals most about Swansea, their philosophy under Rodgers that brings them together and allows them to out-pass the finest English passing side of the last twenty years, Arsenal.

But while they may miss out on Capello’s final squad, perhaps due to the lateness of their charge or even the fact they come from a distinctly unfashionable club, there are few who would begrudge Swansea their success. Keep your eye open for a few of them in Rio in 2014, at least a few of them will be there, at the World Cup.

Five Youngsters That Give Hope For England At Euro 2012 and Beyond

by on October 12, 2011
in Euro 2012

Well, despite Wazza losing the plot yet again, England qualified for Euro 2012 last week – guest blogger Richard Smith runs the rule over some of the prospects that could make their international breakthroughs in Poland and the Ukraine next summer…

Having confirmed their place at Euro 2012 next Summer – as any England fan will acknowledge – nothing is straight forward when it comes to the “Three Lions” and tournament football there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the English National team.

Current England coach, Fabio Capello, is set to step down when his contract is up next year but with that seems to have come a series of risk averse decisions from the Italian who has been happy to call the changes in the England teams and its formation recently. A far cry from the approach to player selection and tactics that saw the side crash out of the World Cup in 2010.

Capello has handed call-ups to a number of young players when naming recent squads and with, England fans have seen some of the older, more established players not featuring, be it forced through injury (Steven Gerrard) or dropped (Lampard in the recent qualifier against Bulgaria), performances have been much better and there’s hope that this approach will continue in the build up to next summer’s European Championships and beyond, laying the solid foundations for whoever becomes the next England manager who will have the task of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Listed below are a number of emerging English players who have either featured in Capello’s recent squads or will no doubt be in contention before the end of the season, the future is certainly a lot brighter for England than it was heading to South Africa!

Phil Jones – Aged 19 (Manchester United)

With the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United, 19 year old Phil Jones has been thrust into the side early by manager Sir Alex Ferguson and has played like he has been there for years.

A very promising prospect, Jones not only can he defend like his life depends upon it, he can play football too and is an excellent reader of the game who has great pace and a first rate touch. He is so good in fact that he would not look out of place in midfield and his performances so far this season for United is sure to give Fergie a selection headache when both Ferdinand and Vidic are back fit.

With regards to his England career, he looks a ready made replacement for John Terry who will no doubt hang up his international boots after Euro 2012 but in the mean time, if Jones continues to feature and play so well for United, he’s sure to be in Capello’s plans going forward.

Tom Cleverley – Aged 22 (Manchester United)

it is a shame that Jones’s United team mate got injured so early in the season as at that time, he was playing so well that Capello could not have possibly excluded him from his next squad. It is rare for players to get Sir Alex Ferguson too excited but clearly Cleverley has; his all round ability in midfield particularly his perception has improved enormously since he returned to Old Trafford after a season long loan spell with Wigan and he now looks set for a long term future at both club and international level.

Kyle Walker – Aged 21 (Tottenham Hotspur)

Harry Redknapp has finally bowed to the pressure and has started to include this highly gifted full back in the first team at White Hart Lane. Redknapp has always liked the player but with first team opportunities hard to come by last season, Walker went on a loan spell at Aston Villa and quickly became a big hit. It was thought at one point that Villa would persuade Redknapp to part with him permanently but the Tottenham boss, recognises his profound talent and he has signed him on a long term deal. It will not be long before he gets his chance at International level and he is known to be on Capello’s radar.

Jack Rodwell – Aged 20 (Everton)

Although there is plenty of competition for places in the England midfield line up, there are many urging Capello to include Rodwell who is one of the best defensive midfielders around. There were plenty of clubs expressing interest in him in the recent transfer window but Rodwell seemingly has no intention of leaving his club, Everton. He has represented his country at all levels with the exception of the senior side and if he can earn a regular place in the Everton first team then he is a very lively outside chance to make Capello’s Euro 2012 squad.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Aged 18 (Arsenal)

Son of former England international, Mark Chamberlain, this young man is one of the most gifted ball players that has been seen for many years. He is so talented that Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, signed him from Southampton for an immediate fee of £12m which could rise to £15m with “add-ons”. He made his debut for Southampton last season and played 36 times for them in their promotion campaign, scoring nine goals from midfield. His move to Arsenal follows almost identically in the footsteps of Theo Walcott, who joined the Gunners at 17 and then was included in the England squad that went to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, something his new team will be keen to replicate. Whilst an England call up may not be imminent, Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly one for the future!

We’ll be back later in the week with an update on the play offs and our first look at England’s prospects next summer…

Ferdinand and Defoe Omitted From Squad To Face Montenegro

by on October 6, 2011
in Euro 2012

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)

What Next For Frank Lampard?

by on August 9, 2011
in Friendlies

Due to the recent ‘events’ in London and elsewhere, the England v Holland friendly tomorrow evening has been postponed – we’d received a preview article from William Taylor and although the game’s off, William’s points are worth reading.

The emergence of Jack Wilshere on the international scene has cast doubt over the future of Frank Lampard’s England career.

Currently sitting on 86 caps, Lampard must surely have one eye on trying to reach the prestigious milestone of 100, most recently achieved by David Beckham.

However, Beckham is a case point. In the cut throat world of international football, you suddenly realise that it is all a young man’s game.

Once you hit 30, people begin to question you place in the team.

There is no doubt that Lampard has been an invaluable member of the national side, but like many other English players of his generation, the lack of silverware with the Three Lions will be a negative that hangs over his name.

Lampard’s immediate future is not of great concern, though. He is expected to feature in the friendly against Holland next Wednesday, and it would take a bold decision not to include him in the European Championships, having been heavily involved in qualification.

He and Steven Gerrard will be considered the stalwarts of the England midfield – although at 33 Lampard is two years older than his Liverpool compatriot.

Furthermore, many would argue that Gerrard’s impact on the national side has been greater than Lampard’s, in recent years.

It all points to Jack Wilshere ultimately succeeding the Chelsea player as the midfield partner to Gerrard in a quintessentially English 4-4-2 formation.

Lampard knows that there will be a time when he will simply have to accept that he can no longer be a part of the international picture.

It was a decision that Paul Scholes made a few seasons back, and it meant that the former Manchester United play-maker was able to extend his club career right up until the end of the season just gone.

“There will be a time when maybe for your own benefit and your own career as a player that you come out of it, like the Paul Scholeses of this world,” Lampard confessed.

“Whether that’s ever an option I don’t know but at the minute I want to give everything. It will be difficult but it’s great to see young players coming through, like Wilshere and McEachran.

“If I can be involved I’ll be happy. If not, I’ll be happy I was there.”

Football betting pundits note how Lampard could perhaps view Euro 2012 as his swansong. He can have one last go at winning trophies with England and then call it a day.

Next Page »