Roy Hodgson has named his 23 for Poland and Ukraine, and inevitably, the recently appointed England coach has raised debate with his selection.
It was well documented leading up to Wednesday’s squad announcement that the biggest decision facing the former West Bromwich Albion manager would be surrounding his central defence; namely, should he pick Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, both or neither? In the end it was the Chelsea skipper who was given the nod, but this is a decision that few appear to agree with.
In terms of appearances, Ferdinand has enjoyed his most productive season since 2008-09. He has played 30 times for the Premier League’s second best defence, which is only one fewer than his rival has for a team who conceded 13 more goals. His exclusion is likely to bring an end to his international career, and is one more disappointment to file alongside his non-participation at Euro 2004 (suspension), Euro 2008 (England did not qualify), and the World Cup of 2010, when he was ruled out with a knee injury picked up during a pre-tournament training session.
As for Terry, he has endured a troubled campaign, the highlights of which include a highly embarrassing slip as Arsenal triumphed 5-3 at Stamford Bridge, being given the runaround by Andy Carroll at Anfield, and, the icing on the cake, his dismissal against Barcelona which threatened to end the Blues UEFA Champions League campaign. Add to this his pending court case for allegedly racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton, then his inclusion in Hodgson’s squad is an even bigger risk than leaving out the United defender.
Elsewhere, the decision not to take Manchester City’s Micah Richards is a bizarre one, all the more so when you take into consideration the injury which has ruled out Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur. This leaves Glen Johnson, who has not enjoyed the best of seasons with Liverpool, and United’s Phil Jones as the only options at right fullback; arguably, Richards has had a better campaign than both.
Michael Carrick is another player who has impressed during the previous nine months, but who will be sunning himself on the beach by the time France provide the opposition in Donetsk. Criminally underused by England in recent season, notably in South Africa when he didn’t leave the bench, the midfielder, like Ferdinand, may well have worn the national shirt for the last time. But maybe Hodgson’s hands were tied on this one: if, as reports suggest, the Old Trafford star refused to be considered as he didn’t want to be just a bit-part player, then his omission from the squad can be understood.
Stewart Downing, who has a record of zero goals and zero assists since his £20million arrival at Liverpool, has been called-up at the expense of, say, Adam Johnson, who contributed six and six respectively and also has a Premier League title medal to show for his efforts. The promising Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets the wild card vote, and despite the youngster’s lack of experience – he has less than 600 minutes’ experience of Premier League football – he is a player who is expected to feature in future tournaments so will relish the Euro 2012 adventure.
Up front, Andy Carroll has been rewarded for his late burst of form with a place in the final 23, unlike Stoke City’s Peter Crouch, Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and even Darren Bent, despite the Aston Villa striker now insisting he will be fit and ready for 11 June. That was a gamble Hodgson felt unable to take, likewise with Grant Holt, despite the clamour for the inclusion of the unfashionable Norwich City man.
It is hardly a squad which will cause any of the fancied nations sleepless nights, but then expectation for England at this tournament is as low as it has been for many; to such an extent, simply progressing through the group stage would be seen as a promising start to the Roy Hodgson era.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United), John Ruddy (Norwich City)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole (both Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Strikers: Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck (both Manchester United)
Follow takefootball on twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/takefootball