Wilshire Shines For Capello

by on February 11, 2011
in Euro 2012

A come from behind victory away from home and the emergence of a new young talent? Things are looking up – over to guest blogger Thomas Rooney.

Fabio Capello isn’t someone who dishes out praise too often. The Italian likes to play his cards close to his chest and not let the press know what he thinks of his players.

After the friendly victory over Denmark on Wednesday night though, Capello was in a very positive mood, not only praising the team performances as a whole, but singling out individuals who impressed him.

At the centre of the England boss’ thoughts in this regard was Jack Wilshire. The 18-year-old made his first international start and produced a very promising performance in the 45 minutes he played.

Speaking of the Arsenal youngster, Capello said: “He played very well. He played with confidence, passed a lot of good balls and won back possession.”

Capello has recently said that Wilshire is one of very few of England’s younger players ready to play for him on a regular basis and it seems clear that the game against Denmark has done nothing but increase this belief.

The former Real Madrid boss continued his praise: “It’s not easy for a player so young on a [full] debut to play at this level. It was a good performance.”

There was quite a lot of pressure on Wilshire before the game too. Everyone was talking about his talent. Players, pundits and managers were all singing his praises.

It shows a lot that he didn’t let this get to him and produced an assured performance, linking well with Frank Lampard and spraying the passes around in England’s midfield.

Many sports betting pundits thought that Wilshire was the real deal before last night’s game and now they know he can be.

Whether he will get the nod for England’s Euro 2010 qualifier against Wales in March is another matter though. Capello will be keen not to ask too much of him too soon.

Having said that, he is bound to be tempted to start with Wilshire. He seems like the type of player that will grow with every performance. He is starting week in week out for Arsenal, so why can’t he be part of England’s strongest team?

Those looking at sportsbook patterns regularly will want to note the quote of the man himself after the game too. He is clearly a very driven young man who is determined to succeed with England.

He said: “To play with the players who were on show was just brilliant. I’m delighted and it’s good to get off to a winning start on my debut.”

“Playing with Rooney and Lampard was great and I’m going to treasure that forever.”

He also revealed that he was desperate to play the second-half, but Capello reminded him of the important games he had coming up for Arsenal.

One thing for sure though is that Wilshire is a fantastic talent and if he progresses over the next year or so, England could have a world-class midfielder on their hands by Euro 2012.

Will this be the England Squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?

by on February 9, 2011
in Previews, World Cup 2014

Guest blogger Richard Smith takes a look into the future…don’t forget, coverage is on ITV1 tonight and kick off is 7:15pm.

It’s the first International fixture of 2011 this week and with all eyes firmly fixed on qualifying for next year’s European Championships, it is sure to be a pivotal year for all concerned with the England setup. Namely Fabio Capello, who has already announced that he is stepping down after (or before if the Three Lions fail to qualify) the Euros but also many of the senior players who are coming to the end of their international careers.

Euro 2012 will almost certainly be the last international tournament that many of the established England players will participate in, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ashely Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch all likely to call it a day, therefore it is interesting to wonder, even at this early stage, what the likely squad and team will be assuming of course they qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

One player who will almost certainly still be around will be Wayne Rooney, who by then may even be the captain of the team. Rooney will be 29 in 2014 the same age as Pele was when he stole the show for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Rooney is certainly including in the following suggested 23 man squad:

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart – Manchester City. Hart will be an experienced 27 year old by 2014 and is already regarded as one of the leading keepers in the world and a player who should be at the top for some time.

Ben Foster – Birmingham City. Not in the current squad but playing well for Birmingham following his move from Manchester United. Foster will not be everyone’s choice but has an advantage over his rivals by playing regularly in the Premier League.

Frank Fielding – Blackburn. Recently called up by Fabio Capello to the full squad and made his debut against Hungary last August. Only 22 at the moment, he is certainly one to keep your eye on in the between now and 2014.

Defenders

Gary Cahill – Bolton. Has been receiving the plaudits for a couple of years now, Cahill will be one of several central defenders who are seen as natural replacements for either John Terry or Rio Ferdinand. Has 1 senior cap and is 25 years old but is likely to more on from Bolton will will also aid his international progress.

Micah Richards – Manchester City. Maturing as a player of substance at Eastlands, Richards always had a great talent but it was just his ‘bad boy’ image that let him down. He should be a top class defender by the next World Cup with his private life seemingly back on track.

Kieran Gibbs – Arsenal. A richly talented left back who has made several appearances for the ‘Gunners’ already. Aged just 21 he would seem to be a natural replacement for Ashley Cole.

Chris Smalling – Manchester United. Another hugely talented defender who can play in central defence or as full back. United paid £10m for him from Fulham when he was just 20 years old which gives some indication of his talent. He is playing more and more for United and has a bright forture and could be a possible captain further down the line.

Kyle Walker – Spurs. Currently on loan at Aston Villa, this exceptional right back will challenge Richards for that role in the team. Has been called up by Capello for the first time for the friendly in Denmark.

Michael Dawson – Spurs. He will be a very experienced central defender by the time of the next World Cup. He is one of those expected to replace John Terry once the Chelsea man has hung up his international boots.

Phil Jagielka – Everton. Another player who will offer the England team reliability and experience at the back. He has earned seven caps under Capello and although not necessarily everyone’s choice, it would make sense to have a player like him available.

Midfield

Aaron Lennon – Spurs. Very exciting right sided player who has improved out of all proportion over the last two years. Very quick, tricky and who can score goals, he will be a certainty for Brazil.

James Milner – Manchester City. Extremely versatile midfielder who can play out wide or in the middle. He is very highly thought of, has World Cup Finals experience and will be at his peak in Brazil at the age of 27.

Theo Walcott – Arsenal. Another right sided player who offers searing pace with great perception. Missed out in South Africa, should not miss out in Brazil.

Jack Wilshere – Arsenal. Has been a revelation for Arsenal this season in his central midfield role, where he can either anchor or push forward. Has tremendous passing ability and can only get better.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Southampton. Already being tipped to be on the books of a big club by the start on next season, this exciting 17 year old has the ability to be an absolute sensation. Has broken into the Under 21 squad and is the talking player in League One at the moment but not for long with a move to the Premier League surely not too far away.

Jack Rodwell – Everton. Another top class player in the making, Rodwell is now starting to command a regular place in the Everton midfield, having first made his debut as a 16 year old. Regarded as a defensive midfielder, Rodwell is not with goal scoring ability as well and is a certain star of the future.

Adam Johnson – Manchester City. A top class player who will play for England for a very long time to come. He will be at his absolute peak come 2014 and will be one of the most important England players.

Jordan Henderson – Sunderland. Another highly regarded progressive player who made his full England debut against France in November. Hugely talented and a very powerful player he will be a huge asset to the England’s central midfield.

Strikers

Wayne Rooney – Manchester United. Could well be captain by the time the team take off for Brazil in 2014. Not having the best period of his football life currently, but Rooney is sheer class and will be a big threat to any defence in Brazil.

Andy Carroll – Liverpool. Could well partner Rooney up front, Carroll has great height, determination, ability and will improve greatly over the next few years now he’s at Liverpool.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – Aston Villa. This very speedy striker has been tipped for several years now to become a huge player for England. So far that has not materialised but he should get more chances  to impress in the near future.

Daniel Sturridge – Chelsea. Currently on loan with Bolton, who he scored for on his debut, this 21 year old has not had too many chances to impress as yet at Stamford Bridge, but when he has had the opportunities he has grabbed them. Yet to fully emerge as a top striker, but he is on his way!

Predictable Drop-outs For Ill-timed Friendly

by on February 8, 2011
in Previews

Guest blogger Thomas Rooney takes a look at tomorrow’s friendly against Denmark – if we’d opted into the Nations Cup, at least it would have been competitive.

The difficulties in juggling club management and international management are once again in the spotlight this week with England set to play a pretty pointless friendly in Denmark.

Coming as it is between two sets of Premier League games and a week before the resumption of the Champions League it is little surprise there has been a flurry of drop outs.

Steven Gerrard, Peter Crouch and Ben Foster have all been released from the squad because of injuries, with Rio Ferdinand already out. In total 24 players from the four England age-group sides have been released this week.

For Fabio Capello he somehow has to get his message across the remaining players in a matter of days, before playing the friendly and waving the squad back off to their respective squads once more.

It must be terribly difficult for an international manager to try and build any team spirit or plan any tactics in such a short space of time. I agree they need these games to experiment, but to shoehorn them in almost as an afterthought benefits no-one. It doesn’t appeal to fans either. Obviously people will be keeping an eye on the live match score , but they won’t be getting overly excited about it.

He must also be fielding several calls from Premier League managers asking that their players don’t play more than 45 minutes of the friendly in order to keep them fit for future domestic games. And god forbid one of them get injured as a demand for compensation will soon arrive at the doors of the FA from the player’s Premier League club.

International football at the moment is being treated like an irritable distraction. In order for it to work it needs to be given the space and time it deserves. I agree with the idea that two dedicated international windows should be set in the season, where the squad can gather for two, even three weeks and play all their qualifiers or friendly games. England will play nine games in total this season, that surely can be split into two windows of five and four matches? It would make things much more exciting for those following the football live scores .

It will give Capello vital time to work with his players and perhaps avoid the awkward club v country tussle that we are seeing now.

It seems like common sense to me – but that is exactly why I can’t see it being implemented any time soon.

England look to build with Denmark friendly

by on January 31, 2011
in Friendlies, Previews

Guest blogger Thomas Rooney gives his perspective on the forthcoming friendly against Denmark…might be worth remembering that the last time we played the Danes in a friendly in Copenhagen we lost 4-1!

In the middle of a Premier League season isn’t the most popular time to have a friendly. But that is the prospect facing England as they prepare for the away fixture against Denmark on February 9th. And in what shape do we find that national side in?

Well, in an odd position truth be told. Gone is the early optimism of the Fabio Capello reign; If the disheartening World Cup fiasco didn’t dampen the mood all together, the 0-0 draw with Montenegro in the Euro qualifier at Wembley.

More disappointing perhaps was the result, or more pertinently, the performance against France. The game offered a lot of parallels in some respects. Both teams were looking to rebuild their reputation after disastrous World Cup campaigns. Unfortunately that was where the similarity ended as the next generation of French players played around and through a baffled England side. The final score may have been a 2-1 defeat, but you would need to add two or three more goals to the French score to find a more fitting scoreline.

Going into 2011, those placing regular football bets will tell you that Fabio Capello faces a difficult task. Qualification for the European Championships is a must, but if he does manage to qualify easily enough then most observers will wave this away, safe in the knowledge that they have seen it all before and that emerging from Group G isn’t much of a challenge. If he fails to do this, then his planned retirement after the Euro’s may be bought forward somewhat.

But there is some light amongst the gloom. English players have proved themselves as up there with the best, James Milner, Adam Johnson and Jack Wilshere have all performed well this season, and fringe players such as Michael Dawson and Darren Bent are putting their hands up for a starting place. Perhaps most importantly Wayne Rooney looks to finding some semblance of form as he looks to bury his own personal South African nightmare; his performance in tandem with Dimitar Berbatov against Birmingham City a couple of weeks ago was excellent, and Fabio Capello will take heart.

Denmark represents a challenge of sorts and will be a good warm-up ahead of the important qualifier against Wales in March. Football betting patterns will see England emerge as favourites, but the Danes will pose a genuine threat.

Premier League managers could do without the extra strain of an England fixture in the middle of a busy Premier League schedule; any potential knocks to key players would not be welcome in the crucial second half of the season. Capello will look to use his time wisely as he looks forward to a key period in his time as England manager. Lots to lose, nothing to gain. Who would be an England manager?

England End Their ‘Annus Horribilis’

by on December 13, 2010
in Reviews

Only a couple of weeks until Christmas: then we’ll be celebrating the arrival of 2011 and hoping that – in football terms at least – England’s performances will be better than they were in 2010. Guest blogger Richard Smith looks back at 2010 – a memorable year for all the wrong reasons.

There will be plenty of England fans happy to see the end of 2010, which really has been an ‘annus horribilis’ for them, for manager, Fabio Capello and his England squad, who of course ended their year with a Wembley defeat against a rejuvenated and possibly resurgent France.

That defeat followed the goalless draw against Montenegro, who now tops the Euro 2012 Group G table ahead of England and could seriously jeopardise the England chances of automatic qualification in the Autumn of 2011.

The year started of course on a much more optimistic note with the England team having already safely negotiated their qualifying group to qualify for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa. An excellent 3-1 win over Egypt in March, who had just been crowned African Nations Champions, saw the team in great form, despite going a goal down in the first half. Two second half goals from Peter Crouch and one from Shaun Wright-Phillips, rescued the situation and England looked good value for their win.

They followed that up with another 3-1 victory, this time over fellow World Cup hopefuls, Mexico, in May with Crouch getting on the scoresheet once again with further goals coming from defenders, Ledley King and Glen Johnson. Confidence clearly ran high with the World Cup just over two weeks or so away.

A trip to Austria was the next stop, where they played an exhibition/friendly against Japan, winning narrowly by just 2-1, thanks to two own goals. It was a poor performance overall and extremely untimely being their last match before coming up against the USA in their opening World Cup fixture.

We all of course know what happened in that match, England skipper Steven Gerrard scored ‘early doors’ but things went downhill rapidly from thereon. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, but worse followed as they were also held 0-0 by rank World Cup outsiders, Algeria which left them needing to win their final match against Slovenia in order to qualify for the Knock Out stages.

In one of the tensest games in the World Cup, England hung on by a thread to win 1-0 after going into an early lead with a goal scored by the lively Jermaine Defoe. It was a mind numbing performance, which met with a scathing media and fan reaction, with many calling for the head of Capello even at that stage. The fact that England failed to win the group meant that they would face old rivals, Germany in the last 16, who were already proving their World Cup pedigree by winning their group.

The match of course was a disaster for England, losing 1-4 being forced home from the tournament early to huge derision and for many of the players as well as the manager uncertain futures in international football.

The back of a bus

The World Cup campaign was not helped by the John Terry scandal earlier in the season, which eventually cost him the captaincy and worsened when a last minute injury to replacement captain, Rio Ferdinand ruled him out of the tournament altogether. Steven Gerrard was then given the armband, somewhat onerously as Terry had kept his place in the team and who, on more than one occasion, became the team’s spokesman. This led to speculation concerning team morale which Capello did his utmost to deny.

Whatever the reason, the World Cup dream turned into the nightmare many had feared it would, but for reasons of financial prudence, Capello kept his job and began to rebuild the team ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

After defeating Hungary by 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley, the England team, put on one of their best ever performances under Capello to defeat Bulgaria by 4-0 in their opening qualifier, with Defoe superb, scoring his first England hat trick. Newcomer, Adam Johnson of Manchester City also made the score sheet.

A follow up qualifying win was efficiently earned against Switzerland in Basel by 3-1, goals this time being scored by Wayne Rooney, Adam Johnson and Darren Bent. England looked a very solid team again and looked at this point certain to win the group. However, then came the Montenegro debacle, followed by the friendly defeat by France and now England must wait until March to redeem the situation in what could be an explosive match at the Millennium Stadium against Wales.

Wales will be the first opponents of 2011 and will be no pushovers on home soil but if England are to silence their critics after a nothing short of disastrous past 12 months then a win together with a good performance is essential as the next 12 months could well prove pivotal for the future of the England football team.

UPDATE: First England fixture of 2011 will be against Denmark in Copenhagen on Wednesday 9th February 2011.

Football Not Coming Home as England World Cup Bid Fails

by on December 3, 2010
in World Cup 2018

It’s about 24 hours since we were dumped out of the voting for the 2018 World Cup and although I’ve calmed down a bit, guest blogger Richard Smith has actually managed to turn his disappointment into a coherent post…

Despite the huge influences of future Kings, the Prime Minister, Lords, Ladies, Knights of the Realm and future Knights of the Realm, the England bid to host the 2018 World Cup failed (embarrassingly) in the very first round of FIFA voting.

Instead of England being the name on the winning card, it was Russia, the original favourites and who are now charged with creating 13 new stadia, building efficient logistical links between the hosting Cities and their neighbouring countries, all in the short time span of less than 8 years.

Investigations and inquests are being planned, if not already underway as to why the England bid failed, although it is being widely acknowledged that the England presentation was one of the best submitted, suggesting that the failure was due to more spurious reasons. In some respects it is not altogether fair to call it a failure; after all, the Russian bid was based on an extremely valid argument that they had never had the opportunity to host the event in the past. It would also be the first World Cup ever to be staged in Eastern Europe.

The reason why most football fans will regard it as a failure is because the England bid was knocked out in the first round of voting. This means quite clearly, that the bid was never under real consideration, a seriously humiliating indictment for the bid team and quite a surprise considering the England were favourites to win the bid with the odds as short as 4/6!

 The failure could be for several reasons, two of which might best be answered by the BBC and the Sunday Times. The ‘Beeb’ of course decided in their wisdom via their Panorama programme earlier this week, to make serious corruption allegations against four members of the FIFA Executive and the Sunday Times printed similar allegations, suggesting that up to six members of this same FIFA Committee had asked for cash in exchange for World Cup votes.

Whatever the reasons for the failure, it is clear that both the BBC and the owners of the Sunday Times could have better timed their attacks; in fact in light of the failure tonight would have been the ideal time for the Panorama programme to be shown. Certainly it makes those BBC employees on the bid team, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer look rather foolish in the aftermath of the verdict.

England in fact cannot now host the World Cup until 2030, with Qatar winning the right to host the event in 2022 and South America to host in 2026.

One of the early conclusions being speculated is simply that England is simply disliked by the international football authorities. Their high powered bid team may have been regarded as too top heavy and as such it became intimidating to the FIFA Executive Committee. It would also appear that promises made have been broken, as England felt that they were sure to have received at least three votes in the first round, but in the event they only received two.

As strong as the England bid was, it was well known to FIFA that the bid team were not fully united, particularly those from the Premier League and those from the FA. Lord Triesman, the original leader of the bid team, vacated his chair, in the summer, after making negative comments concerning rival 2018 bids. He was only replaced by a stand in leader, Roger Burden, hardly a household name and not the man that FIFA would necessarily view as a credible bid leader.

Add these underlying problems to the simple fact that England tried too hard to sell the success of the Premier League. This is certainly something that would not go down too well at FIFA, who frown upon those in the sport who spends beyond their budgets and who do not nurture home grown talent. It will also not be lost on FIFA that England failed to qualify by right for Euro 2008 and produced a very poor standard of football in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. These performances would suggest to FIFA that the all is not well in the English game.

England’s Adam Johnson Seeks Move

by on November 19, 2010
in Uncategorized

Less than a year after his move from Middlesbrough – and with six weeks until the transfer window re-opens – it looks as if Roberto Mancini’s selection process may have had an unexpected affect on one of England’s promising youngsters. Guest blogger Thomas Rooney investigates.

Great things are expected of Adam Johnson. After impressing in his appearances so far for England, he has been touted as a big player for the national side in the future, with many pinning England’s hopes of Euro 2012 success firmly on his shoulders along with those of another few young stars currently lighting up the Premier League, such as Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. However, the player realises that in order to fulfil his destiny on the biggest stage in international football, he needs to perform consistently for his club. 

Tired Of Riding The Pine?

The problem is that his club happens to be Manchester City, which sees world-class players warming the bench on a weekly basis. Although some of these individuals appear content to continue picking up their wages whilst sitting on the sidelines each week, it would seem that Johnson is different. 

“Every footballer has to think about [moving on] when the time comes. It is still early but I definitely would consider it,” he said. 

Johnson’s comments are likely to be received differently in different sectors, with some fans believing that the youngster reckons he’s too big for the club. With the playerstill developing and learning all the time, the chance to train with and observe some of the best players in world football under the guidance of one of Europe’s top coaches is an opportunity that no 23-year-old, no matter how talented, should pass up. The football predictions  suggest City could qualify for the Champions League next season, which would offer Johnson another chance to develop, but there’s no guarantee he’d make the squad.

Some fans clearly think the player believes his own hype and should stick with the club as they seek to help develop him over the next couple of years. Any move could be crucial for his future and that of the England national team. 

On the other hand, some fans have praised the player for not being content to pick up a hefty wage packet while doing nothing on the pitch, and others have urged him to take the plunge and make the move from Eastlands as they fear for his ability to improve under the management of such a defensive boss. If Johnson really is England’s brightest hope for the future, he needs to play regular first team football soon and the transfer rumours have linked him with a move. 

Whatever Johnson and City decide to do, there are likely to be many fans of other clubs in England with one eye on the player.

Redknapp Needs To Be Careful Not To Make An Enemy At Home

by on November 15, 2010
in Capello's Replacements

Written before the sensational result at Stamford Bridge yesterday and Spurs’ win over Blackburn on Saturday, guest blogger Thomas Rooney casts an eye over one of the contenders for the England job after Fabio Capello leaves the post. We’re not completely convinced Harry Redknapp is the right man for the job either…

Harry Redknapp is a man who appears to polarise opinion among football fans. Some can’t imagine a better candidate to replace Fabio Capello as England manager, while others simply can’t stand the sight of him. This probably wouldn’t be a massive problem for the Spurs boss if the Tottenham faithful were entirely won over by him. However, that seems not to be the case.

On Tuesday Spurs slipped to a 1-1 draw against Sunderland at White Hart Lane. In the latter stages of the game, Spurs played the sort of desperate hit it and hope football usually reserved for lower league teams chasing the game in the 90th minute. With Redknapp for some reason seeming reluctant to make any intelligent tactical moves, with many question marks still hanging over the long-term presence of David Bentley for example, Spurs fans were left feeling bewildered at how their team had managed to let another league game pass by without a win in matches the Betfair Football odds suggested they should win.

Tottenham, for all their Champions League glory over the past couple of weeks, have failed to win a domestic league game in four tries now and, after a dismal showing against Bolton at the weekend, can rightly expect to be judged harshly by their fans.

Redknapp, however, wasn’t having any of that, lambasting the Spurs faithful after the game for what sounded like a few boos ringing out around the ground after the final whistle. The Spurs boss did his usual job of painting his side up to be world, simultaneously mounting the pressure on his players and distancing himself from the club’s fans in the process. Digs at the referee, again, didn’t help matters and neither did Redknapp’s sarcastic retort that the supporters are used to watching their side win the league every year.

With Redknapp having ambitions to manage the England side one day, he needs to be wary of who he makes an enemy of in English football. Football fans are a powerful bunch, even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, and turning on a club’s faithful when they dare to voice an opinion doesn’t go down too well in any quarter. The football rumourshave linked Redknapp to the England job, but it doesn’t mean he’ll get it.

Steve McClaren felt all too keenly the effects of an English manager of the national side not being embraced by the fans across the country due to a perceived character flaw and we all know how that turned out. A similar fate could befall Redknapp if he fails to take a more modest attitude when it is needed.

Will Capello Bring in ‘New Blood’ for Friendly with France?

by on November 11, 2010
in Friendlies

Thanks to guest blogger Richard Smith for his thoughts about next week’s international – with the possible exception of Italy, France were probably the worst of the major European nations taking part in South Africa last summer…

England take on France next week at Wembley in what will be their last international of what has been an almost forgettable year. Almost forgettable in the sense that at least they seem to have picked up from where they left off before their woeful World Cup performances in South Africa.

Although unable to beat Montenegro at Wembley last month, England still look the best team in their Euro 2012 qualifying group, securing three wins from their four matches played thus far. They will go into 2011 in second place in the group, with a potentially feisty encounter against Wales their next group game at the end of March.

With the issue of who will be captain now decided in favour of Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and John Terry can both concentrate on what they do best, by returning to their best form and confirming in the process, that they are both vital links in the England set up.

The match against France presents manager, Fabio Capello, the opportunity to include one or two youngsters, most notably perhaps, Jack Wilshere of Arsenal, who has been impressing plaudits since forcing himself into the Arsenal team. Wilshere made his debut of course against Hungary as a late substitute and has been in sparkling form for Arsenal since and could be given a start ahead of Gareth Barry, who has been well out of touch.

In the absence of first choice strikers, Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, Capello might even be persuaded to select Newcastle’s Andy Carroll, who looks like he has far more about him than regular England pick, Peter Crouch; Carroll’s off the pitch behaviour might just put Capello off however.
Kevin Davies has continued to impress up front for Bolton, with his boss, Owen Coyle, calling him unplayable at the moment. Capello is a known admirer and gave him his debut as a substitute against Montenegro which strongly suggests that he, like Carroll, might get the nod over Crouch.

Another striker who has been receiving rave reviews all season is Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd, who has scored ten goals from 12 appearances for the ‘Bluebirds’ so far this season. Bothroyd was once upon a time on Arsenal’s books but was released by Arsene Wenger in 2000. He had spells at Coventry, Perugia in Italy, Blackburn, Charlton, Wolves, before finally settling at Cardiff, where he has a huge following. Whether Capello would dip into the The Championship though remains to be seen with David Nugent the last player outside of the Premier League to be capped in his only appearance under Steve McClaren in 2007.

Gary Cahill, team mate of Davies at Bolton could also get another chance, particularly after his fine display against Spurs last weekend. If Ferdinand and Terry are both fit then Cahill might have to content himself with a place on the bench, but he is certainly one for the future.

France who had an even worse time of it than England in South Africa have also picked up since Laurent Blanc took over the reins from Raymond Domenech in August. As is well known several of their players even went on strike in South Africa, unhappy with the way Domenech managed the team, players such as Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea and Patrick Evra of Manchester United received suspensions for their actions from the French FA.
France however come into the game against England having won their last three games and sitting on top of Euro 2012 qualification Group D with nine points from four games played. In those last three games they did not concede a goal. However, the England odds of 6/5 to win this game suggest that France’s change of form will come to a halt at Wembley; however, at 2/1 about the visitors, you know which of the two team’s odds make most appeal!

Hopefully, Capello will use this friendly against France to offer some new faces a chance to impress and at least finish what has been a disastrous year for the national team on a positive note.

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