England's Possible "Performance" 11
On May 11, Fabio Capello named his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup in South Africa, which will soon be trimmed to the 23 individuals who will lead the country to potential glory.
Amongst the provisional 30, there have been surprising and controversial inclusions.
The squad in full:
Fabio Capello stated that he would pick players based upon performances for club level, which has produced controversy at his provisional squad.
Certain players have not played regularly for their club, due to lack of form rather than injury, yet had been picked ahead of those who were arguably in better contention.
If Fabio Capello is true to his word, and trims his squad to 23 based upon performances this year, we wonder how the "performance based" starting 11 for the World Cup would look.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart - Birmingham City
England is fortunate to have an array of English goalkeepers plying their trade in the Premier League. However, each has failed to deliver on the International stage.
The likes of David James, Paul Robinson, Chris Kirkland, Ben Foster, and Scott Carson have been tipped as potential England number ones but have buckled under the pressure.
This season, another goalkeeper has come out from the Premier League woodwork: Joe Hart at Birmingham City; on loan from Manchester City.
He has been in formidable form for Birmingham, and has been a pivotal fixture in helping the club finish ninth on their return to the Premier League.
For Birmingham, Hart has remained number one as he made 36 appearances in the league, and had 10 clean sheets.
Right Back: Gary Neville - Manchester United
I remain shocked that Gary Neville has not been included in the provisional 30 man squad.
In the past, Neville has solidified the right back position for club and country. In the last decade he has established himself as the most consistent and reliable right back to grace the Premier League.
However, age has caught up with the full back and his place has been compromised by younger prospects in Rafael and Glenn Johnson.
Nonetheless, with age comes experience, and this experience has enabled Neville to play in key matches for United. For a 35-year-old he has notched up 17 Premier League appearances.
In such matches he has displayed performances that roll back the years.
While Glenn Johnson has been considered as the current right back, his form for Liverpool has been as inconsistent as his club's. Neville's performances on the other hand, warrant a place.
While Johnson's attacking ability is not in question, defensively he is weak. This will undoubtedly be exposed by the world's best.
Centre Back: Michael Dawson - Tottenham
Under Harry Redknapp, Michael Dawson has become one of the best defenders in the Premier League.
You would find it very difficult indeed to argue against him having a better season than Rio Ferdinand—granted he was injured—John Terry and Jamie Carragher.
Whilst it seems almost certain he will not be in the starting 11, his performances suggest otherwise. Not only has his defensive aspects improved, he has not been shy in chipping in with a few goals, which for a defender is priceless.
Should Capello get an opportunity in South Africa to play Dawson alongside his club teammate Ledley King the defense will be in capable hands.
Centre Back: Ledley King - Tottenham
Partnerships are key to any center back, center midfield, and even striker force. They have an intuition as where their partner is on the pitch and how to play with them.
King and Dawson have been in formidable form—when they've played together—in deserving securing fourth place and Champions League football next season.
Last ditch tackles and bodies on the line typifies Ledley King this season. Even with his chronic knee problems, which doesn't allow him to train, he has played more matches than Rio Ferdinand this season.
This speaks volumes for King, who has literally put his club first ahead of his knee as they pushed for a European place. This grit and determination and unselfishness is required by all England players if they are to be victorious in South Africa.
Left Back: Ashely Cole - Chelsea
Two of the best left backs in the world are fortunately playing in the Premier League.
Thankfully for England, one is English. Ashley Cole, along with Patrice Evra, is undoubtedly one of the top left backs; be it for Arsenal or Chelsea, he has remained a consistent player.
Although his private life has been less than consistent, Cole has let his football do the talking.
This has enabled him to chip in with his best scoring season with four goals.
England's hope is that they have a full back on the right hand side capable in attack as well as defense as Cole is. Winning the Premier League will put Cole in the best possible frame of mind going into the World Cup.
Right Midfield: Aaron Lennon - Tottenham
The right hand side of midfield has more than enough names in the hat. Aaron Lennon is one of many including Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson, James Milner, and Shawn Wright-Phillips.
Yet Lennon has come on leaps and bounds this season for Tottenham, and his early season form—prior to his injury—helped ensure Spurs were on a pedestal in their search for European football.
Like Walcott, Lennon has been criticized for having the pace but no "end product."
However, this season under Harry Redknapp his final ball and cross has improved greatly allowing him to flourish and all but guarantee his place in England's World Cup squad.
Centre Midfield: Frank Lampard - Chelsea
It remains a head scratcher that Frank Lampard was not in the Premier League team of the year.
Another season in which Lampard has notched up more than 10 goals for a midfielder. This season an impressive 22 league goals is enough to guarantee a starting 11 place.
It's nothing new that critics suggest Lampard and Steven Gerrard cannot play in the center of midfield together, let alone on the same team.
If performances are key to choosing a starting 11, it's understandable Gerrard would not get into the side. His form this season has been as poor as his club's.
For some time, the question has been who is better, Gerrard or Lampard. Recently, you would find it difficult to argue against the latter.
His performance in leading Chelsea to Premier League glory is enough proof. For the sake of performances, Lampard should get the nod ahead of Gerrard.
Centre Midfield: Scott Parker - West Ham United
For all of West Ham United's misery season, there has been one ray of hope. Scott Parker's performance has passion and determination, which is required to fight off a relegation battle and perhaps play for your country.
It would be easy for Parker to be dismissed as he played for West Ham, played his part in a relegation scrap as opposed to a European tie. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
West Ham missed Parker's presence immensely while he was injured and it's no surprise his return coincided with their resurgence and victory against relegation.
No one can argue that Parker demonstrates all that is required to play for one's country.
Left Midfield: James Milner - Aston Villa
Versatility can be an invaluable asset for a club and country.
James Milner has played on the left side of midfield, left back and more often than not center midfield for Aston Villa where he has improved vastly with more freedom.
Unfortunately for him, England have far too many center midfielders which could find it difficult for him to get into the starting 11.
Nonetheless, his versatility and work rate—not to mention his startling performances this season—make him a perfect fit for the left side of midfield.
While the likes of Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonlahor have failed to step up this season, for Aston Villa to mark a place at the World Cup, Milner has ensured his performance has not gone unnoticed.
Striker: Wayne Rooney - Manchester United
The Premier League has been taken by storm by the free scoring antics of Wayne Rooney.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez leaving Manchester United last summer, the heat was on Rooney to step up to the plate and ensure United remained a threat.
In truth, he has carried United to a single point off the Premier League trophy and, but for a moment of brilliance from Arjen Robben, a potential place in the Champions League final.
The way in which Rooney has gone about himself this season has made him the forefront runner of which England's hope of winning the World Cup rests upon.
His sensational 26 goals this season has made him the player for whom the nation rests their hopes on.
Rooney just missed out to Didier Drogba for the golden boot on the final day of the Premier League.
Yet if he takes his form into the World Cup, there's no doubt he could take the golden boot in South Africa.
Striker: Darren Bent - Sunderland
This isn't the first time that Darren Bent has surpassed expectation and scored an impressive goal scoring season.
For Charlton and Tottenham he too had reasonable scoring tallies. At Charlton he was subject to a potential £20 million bid but nothing materialized.
However, despite his season upon season of scoring goals, Bent has failed to break into the England squad.
His last appearance was against Brazil, which would be a difficult team for anyone to make an impact against.
Such is Rooney's ability, he has the ability to play upfront on his own and with five midfielders around him.
Nevertheless, if anyone deserves to be in the starting 11, it's Darren Bent and his 24 league goals, leaving him only two behind Rooney. Not to mention for a lesser club in Sunderland.