As Fabio Capello names his final 23 man squad for this summers World Cup, Sam Cooper takes a look at what each player brings.
The somewhat surprise omission from the squad is that of Arsenal winger Theo Walcott. Walcott, 21, who was the surprise inclusion in England’s last World Cup squad back in 2006, featured in both of England’s two World Cup friendlies against Mexico and Japan.
However, the former Southampton man failed to impress Capello and fellow right-wingers Sean Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon are on the plane for South Africa.
Darren Bent, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines and Tom Huddlestone also miss out.
But what can each of those 23 members of Capello’s squad bring to the team and bring to the tournament?
Joe Hart – Hart has had a fine season on loan at Birmingham City and was a key part of their ninth place finish. The Manchester City goalkeeper kept 12 clean sheets for the Blues including a shut-out against champions Chelsea who scored 103 Premier League goals. The 23 year old featured in both warm up matches and could well start in South Africa.
David James – The oldest man in the squad turns 40 this year and, despite being relegated with Portsmouth this season, looks set to challenge for the number one jersey this summer. James will be keen to impress any managers or scouts in a bid to prevent himself from playing Championship football next season.
Rob Green – The West Ham keeper has been the preferred choice of England boss Fabio Capello and did his chances no harm in the warm up match against Mexico, notably saving at the feet of Carlos Vela. However, Green is more than aware that the race for the gloves is definitely a three-horse race.
Jamie Carragher – Criticised by many for comments in his autobiography criticising playing for England, Carragher looks set to be cover for his Anfield team-mate Glen Johnson at full-back or even at centre-back. However, if Carragher shows the same passion as he does when wearing the red of Liverpool, he could prove to be vital asset.
Ashley Cole – One of four Premier League champions in the squad Cole has had a turbulent year. Wife Cheryl stating she will be filing for divorce just weeks before the World Cup is bound to affect Cole personally but it must remain strong and on task – which he has done for his club all season.
Rio Ferdinand – Ferdinand has had an injury ridden season featuring just 13 times in the League for Man Utd. However, the new England captain must show his leadership and experience considering the relative lack of World Cup experience throughout the squad.
John Terry – Stripped of his England captaincy in February following allegations he had an affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, Terry’s form suffered as a result but has improved in recent months to lift the Premier League trophy. He must perform this summer considering the pace of teams England could meet in the later stages of the tournament.
Glen Johnson – Scorer of a fantastic goal against Mexico, Johnson has had a fine first season on Merseyside. The former Portsmouth and Chelsea full-back has also shone for his country sealing the right-back position. Johnson also brings an attacking element to the side and ,as mentioned, is a great striker of the ball.
Ledley King – A first inclusion at a major tournament for King following a great season with Spurs which saw them qualify for next season’s Champions League. A surprise to some given his injuries but his versatility to play anywhere in defence and in midfield means he is more than worthy of his place in South Africa.
Matthew Upson – Included as cover at centre-back, Upson is ready to pounce in case of injury to Ferdinand or Terry. However, Capello isn’t the kind of man to be wary of dropping the big names so don’t be surprised to see Upson featured.
Stephen Warnock – The headline surprise inclusion, Warnock has cemented his place in Aston Villa’s back four and although not expected to feature much, can learn a lot from the experience of being there.
Gareth Barry – Passed fit for the World Cup but not for the first game against USA, Barry looks set to feature in a defensive midfield role, allowing Lampard and Gerrard to support the attack.
Michael Carrick – Carrick hasn’t featured much at international level but looks set to be given the chance to shine in the opener on June 12 and should he shine could feature more in the tournament.
Joe Cole – Again a debatable inclusion but Cole can feature to allow Gerrard to play his more favoured central role. But Cole offers abilities of his own and could prove to be a tricky winger to deal with for the opposition.
Steven Gerrard – The Liverpool midfielder is a certainty to feature but whether that be on the left or in the middle is a decision yet to be made for Capello. The England boss has played Gerrard out on the left more often than not but he could go more attacking against Algeria and Slovenia.
Frank Lampard – Another certainty in midfield, Lampard has notched 22 league goals from the middle of the field and despite missing penalty against Japan will probably be England’s spot-kick taker in South Africa.
Aaron Lennon – Following the somewhat surprise omission of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon looks set to offer England’s injection of pace on the wings. Lennon puzzled Premier League defences all season long on his way to securing Champions League football for Spurs next season and could well be the “super-sub” of the squad.
James Milner – Milner has had a great season for Aston Villa scoring seven league goals. But it’s not just Milner’s goals which make him the right choice his ability to get to the by-line and to create goal scoring chances for others means he is invaluable for Capello.
Sean Wright-Phillips – Another debatable inclusion, Wright-Phillips takes the place of Man City team-mate Adam Johnson, despite Johnson playing ahead of Wright-Phillips at Eastlands. Wright-Phillips has been inconsistent when wearing the Three Lions but will need to be consistent this summer as, more likely than not, his inclusion will be from the bench.
Peter Crouch – Arguably England’s most valuable asset. Crouch offers variety with very few of the other favourites offer. It’s not just his height that makes Crouch stand out, Crouch can also finish well and certainly has an eye for goal.
Jermain Defoe – Crouch’s Tottenham team-mate Defoe along with others also offers an element of pace but this time down the centre of the attack. Defoe has netted 18 times in the League along with five in the FA Cup showing he can produce goals.
Emile Heskey – A surprise inclusion after being out favoured by Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, Heskey can supply Rooney with flick ons and hold the ball up well to bring the wingers and central midfielders into the game.
Wayne Rooney – The man with which 56 million England fans dream will bring the World Cup home. Rooney has had yet another fantastic season for Manchester United but has struggled since picking up an injury against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League. However Rooney is now, by his own declaration, fully fit and ready to go.
So, there is the 23 men tasked with the challenge of bringing the World Cup home, but can they do it? Capello has led the side to just one defeat in qualifying and despite two below-par performances in the warm up games, the final 23 selected shows variety, strength, pace and strength in depth – all key components to any World Cup winning squad.
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