What’s right for England’s midfield?

by Gavin Caney

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Fabio Capello dealt with John Terry as quickly as his former skipper apparently lasts in the sack. The tabloid scrum will eventually be forgotten, much like Vanessa Perroncel, once the Three Lions start playing in South Africa this summer. Crisis averted? Probably. Yet Capello has another problem on the horizon even if this one has nothing to do with how faithful one of his first-choice centre-halves is.

For years England’s problem has been filling the left side of its midfield. Yet as the World Cup fast approaches there is a worrying void, this time on the right side. Before we even begin to consider the dilemma over the right-back position, Capello has a serious headache over who to pick in a role that for years belonged to David Beckham.

Aaron Lennon had been in scintillating form for Spurs. Finally turning his undoubted promise into end product. Admittedly he was yet to perform at that level for England, but few could doubt that the little speed demon was well on his way to becoming first choice. Lennon then went and got injured and he now faces a fight to make the plane. Even if he does make the squad, Capello has already  urged caution on picking players who have hardly featured. It’s why Rio Ferdinand has been so desperate to return for United and Michael Owen now realises that he has little to no chance of climbing aboard.

Behind Lennon in the pecking order was Shaun Wright-Phillips, (who is hardly a regular at Man City) David Beckham (who is getting older and older) and James Milner, a player who is now relishing in a central role for Villa. Milner could arguably still do a job out wide but will Capello want a player out there whose mindset has been on influencing games from the centre of the park.

We then come to the problem of Theo Walcott. A hat-trick against Croatia had him in every one’s good books. Since then he’s disappeared up his own, or in yesterday’s case Ashley Cole’s, backside. Recurring injuries, doubts in his own ability and a lack of game time means even he may struggle to make the final squad.

The void is becoming that large that after his recent improvement David Bentley is apparently making a late charge for the plane. Worrying indeed.

In an ideal world Aaron Lennon will return, find his form and sparkle on the world stage. If he doesn’t, Capello has a massive choice ahead of him about who to play on the right side of his midfield. It’s a tough choice to make. If he gets it right England could have a serious chance. If he gets it wrong that side of England’s team will be about as safe your wife around John Terry.

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  • W.A.

    Although there’s no one outstanding candidate to play wide right at the moment, at least we have options. Walcott’s form since the Croatia game is a huge disappointment though. As a winger who can also play through the middle, after that hat-trick in 2008 it looked like he could have been an English Ronaldo.

  • dexylongshot

    There’s also Ashley Young, Downing, Joe Cole and Adam Johnson who was brilliant at the u21s and got man of the match last night for Man City. Personally, I like Bentley, whenever he plays he seems to do well, that includes his handful of England games. It’s hardly a problem, that’s over half a dozen decent players who can do a job, personally if Joe Cole is fit he would be in there for me. Look at Argentina, Diego has Geordie Spiderman Guitarez or whatever his name is down as one of his essential 3 players who always plays.

  • W.A.

    Maradona has now also called up over 100 different players since he took over as coach! Can’t wait for his post-match press conferences at the World Cup.

    Bentley has quietly come back into favour at Spurs, and hit a bit of form too. Personally, I think we need to look at wide players who can weigh in with goals, rather than just those who hug the touchline. Bentley used to score quite a bit in his Blackburn days, but not so much with Spurs.

    The way Rooney’s playing for United, though, I think Capello could put him up front on his own – with two players supporting him from either side, and 3 in midfield.

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