Should Jamie Carragher go to South Africa?

by William Abbs

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Fabio Capello will name his provisional 30-man World Cup squad on Tuesday and the big news over the weekend has been that Jamie Carragher looks to be ready to end his international exile and return to the fold. If the Liverpool defender is named in the party for the friendlies against Mexico and Japan later this month, England’s final warm-up games prior to the tournament in South Africa, then his place in the squad raises a couple of important issues.

Firstly, if it is rare for an England player to decide of his own volition that he would rather not be selected for international duty, then it is almost unheard of for such a player to return to the side later on. Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes both stepped down, after Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 respectively, when they still had something to offer, and even though Scholes has occasionally been linked with a return to the squad such stories have always been met with a polite but clear denial. David Beckham relinquished the captaincy after the last World Cup but he never asked to be removed from future squads, with Steve McClaren choosing to leave him out in the cold for almost a year instead. Carragher, however, called time on his own international career in July 2007 because he was frustrated at finding Rio Ferdinand and John Terry immovable ahead of him in the centre-back pecking order.

Secondly, if Capello has convinced Carragher to come back on board, then it proves just how thinly England’s defensive resources are being stretched just one month before the World Cup. The 32-year-old remains one of the Premier League’s better defenders but he is not at the same level as he was at the time of his international retirement. Pace has never been one of his assets and this season such a deficiency has been glaringly obvious. The Liverpool defender’s leadership remains important to Liverpool – whose wretched league campaign might have been worse had their defence not remained relatively solid, conceding a respectable 35 goals going into the last game of the season – but, if there were not so many doubts over the form and fitness of other England defenders, would Carragher be anywhere near the national squad?

The likely call-up of the brilliant but injury-blighted Ledley King on Tuesday also signals that, for one reason or another, Capello is a little concerned about England’s options at centre half. Captain Rio Ferdinand, £24m-man Joleon Lescott, and Wes Brown are all battling injury, Jonathan Woodgate was ruled out for the season weeks ago, and Matthew Upson is struggling for form. Former skipper John Terry is fully fit but, while his place in the starting line-up is not under threat and his place in the squad is beyond doubt, his ability to hold the defence together can no longer be counted upon because a difficult few months in his personal life have coincided with a dip in his form and his discipline, most evidently against Spurs last month. The uncapped Michael Dawson and fit-again Phil Jagielka have an outside chance of making the squad, then, if Carragher and King do not get the nod.

For the record, this would be my provisional 30-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Green, Hart, James

Defenders: Baines, Brown, Carragher, A Cole, Ferdinand, King, Jagielka, G Johnson, Terry, Upson

Midfielders: Carrick, J Cole, Downing, Gerrard, Hargreaves, Huddlestone, A Johnson, Lampard, Lennon, Milner, Walcott

Strikers: Agbonlahor, Defoe, Crouch, Heskey, Rooney, Zamora

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  • Dexy

    not a chance, he’s a had a poor season imo.

    King, Dawson Jageilka are miles ahead.

  • podger1

    im a liverpool supporter of 40yrs and can honestly say no chance because he is one of the main reasons why will never win the premier league he is absolutely GARBAGE

  • James Webb

    Green, Hart, James, G. Johnson, Carragher, A.Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, King, Dawson, Jagielka, Gerrard, Lampard, Milner, Lennon, J,Cole, Carrick, A.Johnson, Barry (or Hargreaves). Rooney, Defoe, Crouch, Walcott.

  • Darren

    Hargreaves? are you having a laugh, he hasnt played for 2 years.

    I actually think Bent is ahead of Defoe at the mo, he’s been consistent where as Defoe hasn’t. He hasnt got a football brain, always offside. Not good enough imo.

    I also think Adam Johnson has got a case, more consistent than Walcott but hasnt got the same pace, thats the only reason Walcott should go

  • James Webb

    Think the difference with Hargreaves is that he is proven at the world stage. If Barry doesnt make it I cant think of anyone with the necessary experience to replace him, unless they persuade Scholes to come out of retirement. I love T Hudd but even I dont think he is ready for a world cup. Any other nation in the world would take a risk on their best players match fit or not.

    I agree Defoe has been off the boil since his injury but Darren Bent in an England shirt looks like a giraffe on ice skates. He panics on the big stage and is not comfortable at all. Play him in a bottom half side and he looks decent but any pressure and he is a liability. I’m sure Defoe will come good when it matters.

    I like Adam Johnson and I would take him Lennon and Walcott. Imagine all 3 playing alongside Rooney as a pace option. I would have them three instead of SWP, Downing and Young definitely.

  • Dexy

    i agree with ya james, Bent looks giraffe all right, but saying that, you can’t ignore him. 24 goals in Sunderland shirt is class, he’s scored against some of the big boys too, I’d tale a punk to be honest, look at Geoff Hurst, he wasnt first choice was he!

    I think we are all missing one player here, Scotty Parker!!!

  • darren

    Parker played under McClown and was dreadful.

    Saying that, I think he’d be exactly the kind of player Arsenal could do with

  • ScottParker

    Scott Parker for England!!

  • Darren

    why hasn’t anyone mentioned him then? He has been in excellent form and if Capello only takes in form players then he has to go, surely?

  • chef

    i mentioned a while back those ankle injurys take a bit of coming back from…..
    and no one can tell me rooney is even close to fully fit….
    bent is the form player and has to go….
    even tho its obvious he wont be first choice
    this might benefit england
    as alot of bentys goals this season have come very early in the game
    which means he doesnt need much of a timeframe to be effective….
    and i saw acoupla punters cn here compare wor benty to a giraffe
    so he,ll definitly fit in to the landscape if he gets to go then???
    cmon fabio get your finger out and buy the lad his ticket…..:O)

  • W.A.

    Parker is one of those players who has had England chances in the past but just not done it when it mattered (I think he started in Croatia back in late 2006, when England lost away – his last appearance). He’s a good Premier League player, as is Bent, but we’ve seen enough of them both at international level to know that they’re just not quite at that level. That’s just my opinion, though, and I know that, at club level, Parker and Bent have been magnificent.

    Hargreaves played for a few seconds against Sunderland which, of course, doesn’t count as much of a comeback after almost two years out. But with Barry facing a race to get fit himself, why not allow Hargreaves a month to prove his fitness for England in training? He was England’s best player at the last World Cup and was only outshone by Rooney at Euro 2004.

  • Andy

    Jamie had a terrible start to the season but he recovered his form eventually. If Capello wants him on board, I don’t see what the issue is.

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