Josh Powell and Aidan Elder report on the squad dilemma facing Roy Hodgson
Euro 2012 is four weeks away and Roy Hodgson has some big decisions to make when picking the squad that will eventually disappoint a nation.
Wayne Rooney, 26, is suspended for the opening two games after giving some Montenegro fella a healthy kicking which leaves Uncle Roy looking elsewhere for strike options.
Andy Carroll, 23, fits the bill but has spent most of the season like Tulisa on ‘that’ video and pretty much sucking. That was right up until a few weeks ago when he magically became ‘unplayable’ and started performing like there were a few hundred Jagerbombs up for grabs.
Kenny Dalglish has considered him ‘unplayable’ for months, judging by the amount of bench-warming Carroll has done since January. Our ponytailed friend is certainly in form at the right time to sway the opinion of someone who only watches the last five weeks of any given season.
Adding to his claims is how he had John Terry’s pants down the other night when Liverpool tonked Chelsea and not just because he left his girlfriend unattended. Paddy Power have him 4/6 to make the plane.
How about Peter Crouch, 31, the man who could possibly score a 40 yard screaming left foot volley and still ruin the moment with a robot dance?
Crouchy has an unbelievable international record, finding the net 22 times in 42 games in an England shirt and looks value at 11/10 to be selected for the squad. That’s almost as amazing as the fact he married Abbey Clancy.
Admittedly his strike tally includes a hat-trick against Jamaica and loads of other naff teams, but he was voted Stoke’s Player of the Year and apparently that’s considered an honour in some places. One big positive in the argument for bringing him is he scored one of the best Premier League goals this season (not a fluke).
Some may question the wisdom of relying heavily on someone doing something uncharacteristically brilliant, but essentially that’s been the story of England at international tournaments from 1996 through to the present.
Grant Holt, 31, may not be the fastest. Or fittest. Or the most skillful. But by God he has an English passport and no-one can take that away from him. In fairness to the Canary, he gets the job done, and is 11/2 with Paddy Power to make the squad after scoring against a few of the big boys for Norwich. Certainly this season’s stats mark him out as a genuine candidate, but clear evidence can be ignored if it suits your agenda. Any Chelsea fan defending John Terry can tell you that.
A cheeky outsider could be Bobby Zamora, 31, who is an 11/4 shout with Paddy Power.
Certainly one of Roy’s favourites at Fulham, he was influential in the 09/10 Europa League campaign that seemed to span far longer than just two years. Reports are Cannavaro has never recovered from being done by Bobby Z. His star has waned a bit since joining QPR, but being pally with the manager has never hurt your chances of being picked for England. In unrelated news, David Beckham has 117 caps.
The youngsters after a slice of English Euro pie (one that tends to end up tasting like failure) include Welbeck, 21, Sturridge, 22, Danny Graham, 26, and Fraizer Campbell, 24.
Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor, 25, has had a difficult year having to play alongside the Emile Heskey, but his efforts and five league goals could be rewarded with a place in the squad. He’s got pace and a pretty cool moustache, but it may take more craft to unlock international standard defences.
Finally Jermain Defoe, 29, has managed to take time out from dating X Factor winners (not Matt Cardle) to put in some solid performances for Spurs. His 16 goals in all competitions this year have helped make him 5/6 with Paddy Power for a place in the squad.
He’s been accused of scoring his goals in gluts, but as long as he can pull out one of those gluts precisely between 11th June and 1st July, that’s not a problem.
Plenty of names for Roy to consider, but who will make the 23 and can any of them do the business in the absence of Wayne?