Euro 2012: The men to lead England into battle

With Euro 2012 fast approaching, new England boss Roy Hodgson has to name his squad on Wednesday that will feature the 23 men charged with bringing football home again. Other nations have already revealed their hands, though some, like the Netherlands have merely picked provisional squads, letting the battle for places run down till the end of the season. It’s a tough task for Roy to pick his first squad, never mind the fact it’s for a major tournament, so we’ve given him a helping hand:


On the Plane

Joe Hart – Hart is a dead cert for the plane, in fact the Manchester City stopper is probably the first name on the team sheet these days. Back in South Africa two years ago, England struggled to field a recognised number one. Hart’s consistency between the sticks has solved this problem and he needs a solid tournament to cement his growing reputation on the world stage.

In the Departure Lounge

Scott Carson –Carson has come back into the England fold again after a few years out in the wilderness following that horrendous mistake against Croatia. Four years on and Carson has a chance to wipe that European slate clean. His form in Turkey for Bursaspor has been decent and Carson will surely take his place on England’s bench in case anything happens to Hart.

Running to the Terminal

Ben Foster – Foster had officially announced his retirement from international football to concentrate on club football with West Brom following a fallout with Fabio Capello. However, the return of Hodgson, his club manager may persuade him to return to the international scene.

Rob Green – Green has been in and out of the England setup following his World Cup horror show, merely filling the gap when England have a shortage of keepers. Playing in the Championship with West Ham hasn’t helped his cause and if Foster chooses to return he may miss out.

Booking their Summer Holidays

David Stockdale – Mark Schwarzer’s backup at Fulham has featured in several England squads but is yet to make his international debut. He has spent the season on loan at Ipswich and therefore looks unlikely to be heading to Poland and Ukraine.

John Ruddy – Instrumental in Norwich’s excellent return to the Premiership, Ruddy’s run of form may have come too late for England. However, Hodgson will have seen plenty of Ruddy in the league this year and may hand the Norwich man the third choice shirt.


On the Plane

Ashley Cole – There’s only one man for the left back spot and that’s the same man who has filled the position for the last ten years. Andre Villas Boas may have relegated Cole to the bench during his time at Stamford Bridge, but Hodgson certainly won’t. You may not like the guy, but nobody can deny his ability on the pitch.

Leighton Baines – Possibly the only backup in the England squad guaranteed of a place. Baines is unfortunate that Cole lies in his way in the white shirt as he has gone from strength to strength during his time at Goodison Park. The Everton left back may have missed out to Stephen Warnock at the last World Cup, but there will be no repeat of that this time around.

In the Departure Lounge

John Terry – The Chelsea skipper would have been a certainty for this list had it not been for a number of unsavoury incidents. The obvious issue surrounds the alleged racism charges with Anton Ferdinand that cost him the captaincy. Rumours have emerged that Roy Hodgson is yet to speak to Terry about the summer ahead and questions remain about whether Rio Ferdinand would partner his long-term colleague again. His form recently has been suspect as well and the previously unthinkable idea that Terry could be left at home is gathering pace.

Rio Ferdinand – With Capello in charge, it looked as if Rio’s international career was over. He has lost a yard of pace and his form for Manchester United saw him struggling for his club place. However, he has wound back the years in the second half of the season, turning in some vintage performances that has propelled him back into contention. The issue with Terry is the only thing keeping him from a certain place on the plane, as England need his experience at the back.

Joleon Lescott – The Manchester City defender has enjoyed a decent season in his club’s title chasing bid, providing a rock solid partnership at the back with Vincent Kompany. He turned in a great performance against Spain back in November and could be a surprise choice for the starting eleven if Ferdinand and Terry are no longer compatible.

Glen Johnson – Johnson has possessed England’s number two jersey for a while now, but his position has come under serious threat this year. Micah Richards’s return to form and Kyle Walker’s emergence, combined with Johnson’s injury problems has meant Johnson is no longer an automatic choice, with some suggesting he might not even make the squad. His major tournament experience could come in handy though.

Running to the Terminal

Kyle Walker – The Spurs right back won the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award following a terrific campaign for Tottenham. He’s scored a couple of brilliant goals including the winner in the North London derby and his explosive pace down the right wing can be a real attacking asset. His lack of experience could see him miss out, but Hodgson might fancy Walker as one to light up the tournament.

Micah Richards – The Manchester City right back won his international spot back during Capello’s final days in charge after a couple of years out of the reckoning. However, his early season form has dipped and Richards could now have fallen behind in the three-way tussle for right back. His versatility to switch to centre back could count in his favour though and he will be nervously waiting for the phone to ring on Wednesday.

Phil Jones – Think back to the start of the season when the whole country was raving about Jones after his move from Blackburn to Manchester United. You may as well have handed him the captaincy there and then. Perhaps the hype affected Jones’s performances on the field, but he has certainly found the second half of the season tougher. However, his ability to play centre back, right back and central midfield makes him a useful player to have around.

Gary Cahill – Cahill seemed to have sealed his place in the England side alongside John Terry after a run of good form for Bolton. However, he decided to step up a level and sign for Chelsea in January, a move that hasn’t quite gone according to plan yet. Cahill is currently injured, but he has also struggled to find his way into the Blues’ starting line-up anyway. Cahill is now facing a titanic battle for his international spot.

Phil Jagielka – Jagielka has once again been solid at the heart of Everton’s defence as David Moyes’s side continue to defy the odds in the Premier League. However, Jagielka has never been a regular for his country, though he starred in England’s win over Spain. He probably won’t make the first team, but Jagielka would prove to be more than a capable deputy.

Booking their Summer Holidays

Chris Smalling – Smalling’s consistent form for Manchester United would have surely seen him picked by Hodgson for the finals, but unfortunately a groin injury has ruled him out of contention.

Michael Dawson – Dawson went to the World Cup as an injury replacement for Rio Ferdinand and he will only be selected this time around in the event of another injury crisis. Hasn’t quite kicked on in the way many people at Spurs expected, though injury hasn’t helped.

Ledley King – Another Spurs player set to miss the cut. No one can question King’s undoubted quality, but those knees haven’t got any better. Capello made the mistake of taking him to South Africa, Hodgson won’t do the same at Poland and Ukraine.

Kieran Gibbs – Gibbs looked like he’d be Ashley Cole’s likely successor for his country after impressing everyone coming through the ranks as a youngster at Arsenal. However, he hasn’t progressed in the fashion Arsene Wenger expected and Gibbs is a comfortable third behind Leighton Baines and Cole for the left back spot.


On the Plane

Steven Gerrard – Gerrard has been a source of inspiration for both club and country for a number of years. He may have been overlooked for the permanent role as skipper again, but Gerrard remains a vital cog in the England midfield. Injury may have limited his performances for the Three Lions recently, but everyone is pinning their hopes on one more massive effort from Gerrard for his country this summer. Central to England’s hopes.

Gareth Barry – Barry’s position in the England side came under threat after a lacklustre World Cup campaign that highlighted his lack of pace in the middle of the park. However, the Manchester City man has enjoyed a fine year for the Blues, proving his worth to Roberto Mancini time and time again. Barry might not make Hodgson’s starting side, but he will certainly make the plane.

Frank Lampard – Lampard’s performances in the England shirt have been questioned in the past, but he is part of the furniture on the international scene. It looked as if Lampard’s international career was drawing to a close as Capello began to leave him on the bench consistently, but some decent performances for Roberto Di Matteo’s revitalised Chelsea side has made sure Lampard will have one last chance at a major tournament.

In the Departure Lounge

Scott Parker – Parker replaced John Terry as England’s skipper and this, alongside his steely performances in the holding role, makes him a certainty. Scotty won England’s Player of the Year award in 2011 after impressing everyone with his displays in midfield, while he has also made himself a key component of the Spurs side as well. If England are to tick in Eastern Europe, expect Parker to be the driving force behind it. However concerns over an ongoing achilles injury has made Parker a serious doubt in the last couple of days. England need him at full fitness. 

Theo Walcott – Walcott never quite manages to seal his place in the England side, despite the fact he regularly features in the national squad. His end product is often poor and he tends to go missing in big games. However, Walcott’s searing pace and ability to find the net makes him a likely starter for England, though you can never be too sure. After all, he missed out on the last World Cup when everyone expected him to go.

Ashley Young – Young’s first season at Manchester United hasn’t been an enormous success, but he has still done enough to remain in contention for the Three Lions. Young has been one of England’s more consistent players in recent months, even finding the net on a number of occasions. His starting spot out wide may come under threat depending on the tactics Hodgson deploys, but Young will expect to be busy this summer in some form.

James Milner – Milner has become a victim of his own versatility for both club and country, as neither England nor Manchester City know where to play him. However, this should make him a decent option to pick for the substitute’s bench, indeed Milner has never let England down when he has pulled on the white shirt. His enterprise and ability on the ball make him a decent bet for the squad.

Running to the Terminal

Stewart Downing – Downing is not the most popular man in England this season and plenty of fun has been poked in his direction since his £20 million move to Liverpool. A lack of assists and goals has seen everyone questioning Downing’s ability once again and many people would be disappointed to see Downing’s name in the final 23. On his day though, Downing does provide a decent option with his left foot and Hodgson may decide he needs his width to compliment his squad.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Yet to make his debut for the senior side, Oxlade-Chamberlain is an outside bet for selection. His youthful vigour has seen the Arsenal fans drooling over his potential, while his pace and ability to dribble with ball could be a valuable weapon in the latter stages of games at the tournament. However, if Arsene Wenger doesn’t think he is ready to play every week at the Emirates, then a major tournament might be too early for him as well.

Adam Johnson – Johnson has provided a decent option for England when he comes off the bench, but unfortunately he is yet to turn this into a starting role. His inability to break into the Manchester City side regularly is proving a hindrance to his international career though and a lack of appearances at the Etihad may see him miss out this summer. Johnson is able to create a goal out of nothing though and his trickery on the winger could unlock tight matches come the summer.

Booking their Summer Holidays

Jack Wilshere – Unfortunately for England, Wilshere’s ongoing ankle problems has seen him miss the entire season. Wilshere would have been a good bet to start as well and it is a pity that he will miss out. Other opportunities await in the future though.

 Paul Scholes – Calls for a return to the international setup for one of England’s finest seem to happen every year. However, as good as Scholes has been since his return from retirement, the ginger master is not the player he used to be. He would probably reject any approach anyway.

Aaron Lennon – Lennon’s raw pace makes him a viable option on the right wing, but he has barely featured for England since the World Cup. A lack of consistency with his final ball hampers his game and this will ensure Lennon will miss out this time around.

Tom Cleverley – Cleverley made a good start to the season for Manchester United, but injury ensured he missed a large chunk of the season. The return of seasoned veterans Gerrard and Lampard means Cleverley will be competing for Olympic selection instead.

Jordan Henderson – Made his England debut against France in 2010, but his £20 million move to Liverpool is yet to pay off. Anonymous in many of the big games, Henderson needs to improve to make the cut internationally.

Jack Rodwell – After making his England debut last year, Rodwell looked a decent bet to sneak into contention this summer. Injury has wrecked those plans and Rodwell needs a decent summer of recuperation to get back into form for Everton.


On the Plane

Wayne Rooney – It is a sad state of affairs that the only man certain to make the plane in the striker’s department is one that will miss the first two games through suspension. Rooney’s idiotic behaviour in Montenegro has cost England their best player and everyone in the country prays that England still have a chance of qualifying when Rooney returns for the final game.

In the Departure Lounge

Danny Welbeck – Rooney’s Manchester United partner looks likely to fill his spot up front after an excellent season that saw him dispose of Javier Hernandez in the Reds starting line up. Although ungainly at times, Welbeck does offer some genuine pace in the final third and can hold the ball up when necessary. He has an excellent chance to prove himself on the international stage.

Running to the Terminal

Daniel Sturridge – Sturridge looked a decent bet to not only make the squad, but also the starting eleven given his electrifying form for Chelsea earlier in the season. However, he has become increasingly marginalised in recent weeks, only making the bench for a number of the Blues’ big games recently. Sturridge has been playing out wide as well and this may cost him his place in the squad.

Andy Carroll – Carroll’s topsy-turvy season may take another twist next week. People would have laughed three months ago if Carroll had been named in the squad, but his recent form for Liverpool has been astonishing. He transformed the FA Cup Final and turned John Terry inside out during the 4-1 victory over Chelsea. Carroll could provide a decent option if England need to turn to Plan B during the tournament.

Peter Crouch – Crouch has been touted for an England spot for most of this season, having performed consistently for Stoke all year. His wonder goal against Manchester City did his chances no harm and nobody can argue against his international scoring record. His last appearance came against France in 2010 though and people still question his ability to produce the goods in the big games.

Grant Holt – The Norwich frontman is the second highest scoring English striker in the Premier League this season, with his 14 goals putting him in contention. He may never have played for England and may be 31, but who could deny Holt the opportunity to continue his amazing rise to the top of the game. Don’t rule it out.

Darren Bent – A certainty for the squad and probably would have taken Rooney’s place in the team despite an average season for Aston Villa this year. Ruptured ankle ligaments though seem to have curtailed Bent’s chances barring a miraculous recovery. However, if by some chance Bent manages to regain fitness in time, England will surely take him to Poland and Ukraine.

Booking their Summer Holidays

Jermaine Defoe – A one-time England regular, at least for the bench, Defoe’s lack of playing time at Spurs means it will be difficult for Hodgson to pick him for this summer.

Bobby Zamora – Zamora’s ability to hold the ball up saw him win a couple of caps under Fabio Capello, but his move from Fulham to QPR has brought little reward. Will have surely cost him his place at Euro 2012.

Emile Heskey – Aston Villa may have released him, but he’s still available for England…Just kidding.

Final England Squad

  1. Joe Hart
  2. Glen Johnson
  3. Ashley Cole
  4. Scott Parker
  5. RioFerdinand
  6. John Terry
  7. Theo Walcott
  8. Steven Gerrard
  9. Ashley Young
  10. Wayne Rooney
  11. Gareth Barry
  12. Kyle Walker
  13. Scott Carson
  14. Joleon Lescott
  15. Gary Cahill
  16. Leighton Baines
  17. Phil Jones
  18. Frank Lampard
  19. James Milner
  20. Adam Johnson
  21. Andy Carroll
  22. Daniel Sturridge (Darren Bent if fit)
  23. Rob Green

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