Well, let’s start from the back. Joe Hart is largely respected as a ‘keeper of talent and potential, but does he deserve a World Cup birth? Out of the three goalkeeping options, Green was the mainstay through qualifying, but has now been brutally booted in the face following his error. Following an exceptional domestic season, Hart would be adept in filling-in and when called upon he provides a solid and steady frame.
However, I’m going to conveniently, and lazily, copy and paste what I wrote before the Algeria game when considering the starting line-up: ‘the argument that Hart doesn’t have enough experience to be the starting keeper always seems to leave you in an exasperating catch-22 cycle – you need to be given the experience at some point in order to possess the adequate experience. Nevertheless, I’d still go with James since he’s a good ‘keeper and, yes, importantly possess that magical ‘experience’; so I’m just contradicting and arguing with myself here…what a stupid s**t I really am, I actually deserve to die.’
Well, I stand defiantly by this sentiment, death an’ all. It seems Hart was taken as the third choice, and will be unlikely to feature; amassing only three international caps, this is unsurprising. He is clearly an accomplished goalkeeper, and maybe if he had been given more chances in qualifying he could have staked his claim, but for the rest of this tournament James is now the obvious choice.
Next up, there’s the saviour, the messiah, the knight in shining armour…oh, it’s Gareth Barry. Certainly, the hoopla surrounding Barry when he was injured was a little over amplified, and the old adage that ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ came into effect. However, he is definitely a player who can play an important role in England’s potential progression, but hopefully in four, five, one formation. Indeed, it feels like the whole nation is bellowing out for this structure, and Barry would be crucial as the holding midfielder. His ability to do this whilst offering composure, simplicity and a calming influence is paramount and could liberate England’s most threatening assets to thrust forward. Hence, Barry is a player vital to Capello’s chances of success, in a subtle yet significant way.
Lastly, there’s Shaun Wright-Phillips. Used as a substitute thus far, often to the nation’s annoyance as we hold our collective breath for Joe Cole, Wright-Phillips at least tried a more direct approach against Algeria. This is of course expected, and easier to do, when coming on as an ‘impact player’, but he should still earn some acclaim for attempting to beat a man and get to the by-line when other players appeared frightened to even try. Indeed, Lennon has looked slightly lacklustre, hasn’t exploited opportunities with his pace, and has been unable to recreate his imposing club form – admittedly a criticism that could be thrown at pretty much the whole England team. So maybe the other little winger deserves a starting chance. Again, Joe Cole is the name most people want to see, but he’d be more apt on the left of a fluid five-man midfield, meaning Wright-Phillips should possibly be utilised on the right.
So, with three players in the squad sharing over 70 international caps between them, can the City boys save Fabio’s dreams? …well, no, probably not; particularly as they’re either unlikely to be given the opportunity or aren’t really in the glory grabbing positions anyway. However, Barry could certainly – and perhaps Wright-Phillips if given the nod – play a practical and positive function.
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