1 – Darren Bent: Since his move from Tottenham the tall and athletic Bent has performed well for new club Sunderland, forming a strong a formidable partnership with the more muscular and powerful strike partner Kenwyne Jones. In a team lack that has found it hard to find the back of the net, Bent has performed well racking up fourteen goals, including the memorable beach ball deflection against Liverpool. Whilst Bent’s finishing has received criticism in the past, including comparisons by Harry Redknapp to his wife after missing an opportunity whilst playing for Spurs, his speed and ability to run with the ball provides the England strike force with a different dimension.
2 – Carlton Cole: After several years of warming the Chelsea bench, numerous loan spells and several injuries – Cole finally seems to be showing the quality that many knew he had at earlier points in his career. An all round centre forward with the ability to act as the target man and drop back into the midfield areas has meant Cole has become the main goal threat at West Ham this year – leading to reported interest from Arsenal. Whilst Cole doesn’t bring any unique qualities, his all round game play and work ethic give him an outside chance of making the squad – particularly if Peter Crouch were to pick up an injury in the run up to the tournament.
3 – Emile Heskey: Despite playing under Martin O’Neill once again at Aston Villa, Heskey has struggled to find the form he showed in the early parts of his career at Leicester and Liverpool. Under Steve Bruce at Wigan, Heskey was playing week-in week-out giving him the opportunity to show off his phenomenal strength and hold up play – pushing him into the squad and starting line up for several of the qualifying games. However, Capello picks players on form and with Villa continually selecting to play with one target man in the form of John Carew, Heskey’s chances look low.
4 – Michael Owen: Owen is without doubt an England Legend, being the all time top scorer. However, ever since his move to Newcastle from Real Madrid he has failed to show the form that saw him consistently lead the England front-line. Even under the expertise of Alex Ferguson and with the quality of the Manchester United midfield, Owen has struggled to find the back of the net. Whilst many would talk about the finishing and box play that Owen undoubtedly still has, his injures and lack of form this season are likely to see him loose out to other more in form and prolific goal threats.
5 – Theo Walcott: Walcott was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s wild card at the last World Cup in Portugal. Walcott didn’t make it on the pitch, but the world knew of his talent – seen through his academy days and appearances in the Arsenal reserves. Four years later however, Walcott’s chances of another world cup visit look thin. He has failed to perform largely due to consistently being pulled back into the Arsenal injury room. Whilst Wenger remains loyal in giving Walcott his chances in the Arsenal team, Walcott knows that he will have to show some seriously impressive form in the run up to the tournament if he is to stand any chance.
Written By Jonathon Ireland
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