Friday, 4 June 2010

Is Rio's injury a blessing in disguise for England?

As everyone has by now heard, Rio Ferdinand is out of the England world cup squad after sustaining a knee injury in what Fabio Capello described as a 'normal tackle' from Emile Heskey (I'm sure the Heskey haters will be using this as further proof he shouldn't have gone but that's just stupid)

Of course its a tragedy that one of the lynch pins of the England defence will be missing but on reflection is it such a bad situation? At least now England have the chance to call up a replacement and there won't be any 'maybe he'll be fit' or 'maybe he's worth the risk' like Beckham in 2002 or Rooney in 2006. It's done and he's out and that is that, but maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all, Rio has only player 13 league games this season (21 in all comps) and in fairness to him hasn't looked the same player he was last year, it could be a bit premature to say that his best years are behind him but at 31 he's not going to get any quicker or develop a much greater understanding for the game and things haven't gone well for Rio since his back problems first started, even in the game with Japan he didn't look the player he once was and him and John Terry both looked a bit lost next to each other. Whilst in 2006 Rio was probably approaching the peak of his game, 2010 could have seen him beaten for pace by some of the faster opposition players that he would face, clearly this is something that has caught Sir Alex's attention at Man Utd, moving quickly to snap up Chris Smalling whilst Rio's injury problems were a major concern especially with something like a back injury that tends to never go away and always takes something away from a player be it outright speed or just basic mobility.

Whilst it is a tragedy losing such a key player as well as an inspirational captain, it might not be the end of the world. In Ledley King, who should be the natural replacement, England have a player that has the potential to be a top quality defender both in Europe and the EPL and could now have the chance to step up and prove this, and this will be something he can relish.

At Spurs this season he probably had his best campaign to date as well and put his body on the line playing key back to back games at a time people doubted his knees could stand it. King has as much pace as Rio, a great reading of the game as well as a great aerial presence and will see this as now another chance to prove people wrong and raise his game even further. Where this season Rio has stuttered and stumbled King has been impeccable, his worst game this season probably being the recent friendly against Mexico and every time a new obstacle is put in front of him he seems to rise to the challange and over come it. If Capello really meant the 'i'll pick players on form not reputation' now is the time to prove it and call King up as the first choice center back, if his knees are an issue he can always be rested in the final game against Slovenia which should be easy enough and then he should have enough of a break between the remaining games to recover. In Steven Gerrard there is also a captain ready to step up and take on the challenge, and whilst his club form has been below par i think he might enjoy the relief of captaining a team where he believes the players around him are as good as him and can all drag the team forward rather than him doing it on his own.

Whilst it is bad Rio will miss out i don't think its as bad as it could have been, but in Ledley King there is a ready made replacement ready to step up and hold the fort and i think he could do a better job than Rio probably could have done at the moment given his record this season.

I'm still working on the World Cup groups blog and will have a review of group A&B up by tomorrow evening and then a review of 2 groups every day after that

thanks for reading, feel free to share any thoughts through the usual means (twitter - Buster_5265 & Hotmail - or facebook)

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