One of Fabio Capello’s major decisions come the Summer will be to decide who, along with the nailed on certainty that Wayne Rooney (bar injury) will be on the plane to South Africa, will contend for one of the remaining striking places in the squad. This week we look at the top ten English strikers who Capello may be considering for a place in his squad for South Africa.
1. Peter Crouch (Tottenham Hotspurs) 35 caps 18 goals – The lanky striker may struggle for a regular place in the Tottenham team alongside the likes of Roy Keane and Jermaine Defoe, but for England, Crouch is something of a talisman with an unerring ability to score goals whether from the start or from the bench. His performance against Belarus may well have persuaded Fabio that he is currently our 2nd best choice behind Rooney.
2. Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) 57 caps, 7 goals : The Aston Villa frontman seems to be Fabio Capello’s preferred foil for Rooney in attack. His ability to hold up the ball, size and selfless running seemingly the attributes Capello values because, let us not deny it, his goalscoring record as a striker for his country is pretty poor. A lack of first team chances at Villa however is not helping further his claims for a spot on plane.
3. Jermaine Defoe (Tottenham Hotspurs) 37 caps, 11 goals : Of all the England strikers, perhaps the one who has impressed the most this season has been Defoe. His goals against Holland and man of the match performances have seen him go from a fringe squad member to being an almost automatic selection. It remains to be seen whether Capello feels Defoe’s style of play meshes well with Rooney.
4. Carlton Cole (West Ham United) 6 caps 0 goals : The West Ham striker finally seems to be fulfilling the potential he showed as a youngster at Chelsea. A powerful striker in the Heskey mould, he is seen as the main option instead of the Aston Villa man. Hasn’t yet registered a goal for his country but his all round performances have been good and given his age and limited experience, there is the chance he will improve.
5.Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) 3 caps 0 goals : The former England U21 striker has blinding pace and that could well prove to be a huge asset for England in the summer. Highly regarded by Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill, who selects him ahead of Emile Heskey, Agbonlahor has only had three caps and needs a good performance or two over the remaining friendly games to push himself into contention.
6. Michael Owen (Manchester United) 89 caps 40 goals : It’s quite simple for Michael Owen. To get into the squad he has to prove his fitness and form by forcing his way into the Manchester United team on a regular basis and scoring goals like he used to. At the moment Owen’s been used as a substitute mainly by Sir Alex Ferguson and as long as that continues, it is hard to see Capello softening his stance over the striker.
7. Darren Bent (Sunderland) 4 caps 0 goals : It seemed after his move from Tottenham to Sunderland and the stalling of his career at Spurs, that Darren Bent’s chances as an England striker would be remote. However the move to Sunderland has invigorated the player and he is arguably the most in form and consistent English striker in the Premier League at the moment. Capello must surely be keeping close tabs on his performances.
8. David Nugent (Burnley) 1 cap 1 goal : The dearth of English striking talent in the Premiership is highlighted by the fact that after Bent the next player most likely to try and challenge for a place in the squad is Nugent. The former Preston striker netted a goal on his England debut but has never looked likely to make the breakthrough at Portsmouth and his loan deal with Burnley has seen him look sharper, netting two goals in six games, but he would have to have an incredible season to even get close.
9. Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland) : 0 caps 0 goals : Capello will know the capabilities of this young striker from his exploits with the U21 team. However Campbell is another striker who is not playing regularly, even despite his big money move to Sunderland and that, combined with a lack of goals at the highest level, means that he is a very very distant outside shot at best.
10. Zavon Hines (West Ham Utd) : 0 caps 0 goals : The young striker has exploded onto the scene at West Ham this season, mainly as an impact player from the bench. His pace frightens even the best defenders and while the rest of his play is erratic lets not forget that the same could have been said for Theo Walcott four years ago, and Sven took the gamble. I can’t see Mr Capello doing the same though.
It’s pretty meagre pickings for Mr Capello, who would you pick to travel alongside Rooney to South Africa?
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