So, tomorrow Fabio Capello will face one of the worst jobs any international manager has to do by cutting 7 of his 30 man squad and deciding who will be joining him on the plane to South Africa. There has been much speculation on who will go and who will stay, Capello stated this morning (31/5) that he has finally got his squad narrowed down to the 23 he wants to take. I've decided to chip in with my 2 cents worth and see if my crystal ball can be accurate in seeing who will go
Clearly Capello won't be dropping any of the 3 keepers he has already called up so Green, James & Hart will all be on the plane to South Africa although no-one is any the wiser as to who will be number 1 - i personally think Hart should be first choice, he has excelled in the 2 friendlies and against Japan he made 2 top quality saves but Capello will probably stick with David James as his first choice
The first choice defenders are already set in stone with A.Cole, Ferdinand, Terry & Johnson being the widely expected starting back 4 but who will go as back up? Jamie Carragher clearly can expect to be on the plane otherwise what would be the point in bringing him out of retirement? This combined with his ability to cover right back as well as center back (and the odd occasion, left back) makes him an excellent choice for back up. I would expect Ledley King to go as first choice back up to Rio & JT especially as his well documented knee troubles seem to be slightly under control having played 4 back to back matches for Spurs at the end of the season, although this in turn opens the door for another center back to act as his cover so i would expect Upson to go over Dawson given Upson has played more games at this level and despite not being a world class center back can still do a job, which is a bit harsh on Dawson given the season he has had at Spurs lining up with King but his push may have come a little to late. I also expect Baines to go as back up to Cole, and i personally think he should have been there over Bridge anyway (although Baines recent admission of home sickness might be an issue).
To get the chop - Warnock & Dawson
This is probably the toughest area to predict, with most of the players thinking they justify a place on the plane. Gerrard & Lampard will certainly make it to South Africa, along with the likely announcement of Barry not being fit for USA game but still making it as he will be fine for the rest of the tournament. I also expect both Walcott and Lennon to go and i think Lennon should be starting on the right wing - he has maybe a tiny bit less pace than Walcott but he has a much better end product and is streaks ahead in the decision making department, a place Walcott seems to struggle with most at the moment.
This of course means that SWP won't be making it as 3 right wingers seems unnecessary especially when you consider Milner is almost certainly going and can play on either wing. I think Scott Parker should be going as he is the only genuine defensive midfielder in the squad but the fact he wasn't used in either of the warm up games seems to give a message that he won't be on the plane. Huddlestone didn't perform especially well in either warm up game meaning Michael Carrick, who's also been poor recently, will probably sneak on the plane despite never really doing it for England. This means the last spot will be between J.Cole & Johnson, and i think Joe Cole's second half performance against Japan will mean he goes on the plane as he showed exactly why we need him as a plan B - he changed things around and seemed to present a different threat, i think Johnson's inclusion in the 30 squad can be justified but people have got a little to over excited about him this season, he's had a good season but against the bigger teams (Man U, Arsenal, Spurs & Liverpool) he didn't do much and maybe this is down to inexperience at playing at a higher level.
To get the chop - SWP, Parker, Huddlestone & Johnson
I can't see anyone else but Darren Bent being left behind from the 5 strikers, Rooney & Crouch are already on the plane with Defoe not so far behind them. This leaves the never ending debate about Emile Heskey, we've all heard the 'he doesn't score but he bring so much more to the table' argument, and his miss against Japan was yet further proof you wouldn't want him in a 1 v 1 must score situation but it is true he does bring a tremendous amount to the team and when you see Rooneys face light up talking about playing with Heskey you know the players believe it as well - against Japan for the last 15 min's he was still able to hold up the ball better than any England player had all game.
This leaves Darren Bent who didn't really get a chance against Japan, he worked hard but no one really created anything for him as it was a very poor 45 min's for England as a whole. However when you look at previous games for England he hasn't really done it although he's only made 6 appearances for the national team. I think Darren Bent is the kind of player that excels at the focal point of an average team (Ipswich, Charlton & Sunderland) but can't really be counted on to do it at the very top.
To get the chop - Bent
So that's it, my final seven players to be left behind would be Warnock, Dawson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Parker, Huddlestone, Johnson & Bent. I think if Capello were to spring a surprise it would be including one of Johnson or Bent - if he chooses to use a 4-4-2 system it would make sense to have a natural wide left player available instead of using Gerrard but this raises the age old 'Gerrard & Lampard together in the middle' problem, and Bent if he wants to be safe and take 5 strikers (although with Walcott in the team he could be used as an emergency 5th striker, or play J.Cole or Gerrard off one main striker).
Despite tinkering with tactics over the friendlies i can see him going with a 4-5-1, 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1 formation he has used over the qualifying campaign. Obviously its never nice to have to cut players and ruin their dreams but i think its fair enough to say the only one of these players that is good enough, or could be good enough, for this level of football is Adam Johnson
hope this has provided an interesting read (despite the fact its a little late!) and if you have any feedback please leave it below, or e-mail me at Buster_5265@hotmail.com or tweet me at Buster_5265]