England World Cup Roster: Will Fabio Capello Regret Omitting Michael Dawson?
There was mixed news for Tottenham Hotspur's six England hopefuls as Fabio Capello named his final 23-man squad for South Africa.
As expected, there were places for strike duo Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch and winger Aaron Lennon, despite all three failing to impress in their time on the pitch during the recent friendly matches against Mexico and Japan.
Capello also decided to select injury-prone central defender Ledley King. The Spurs skipper managed to persuade the Italian that his knee could cope with the World Cup schedule in his goal-scoring return to international football last week.
However, there was no room in the inn for inspirational stand-in captain Michael Dawsonwho has been Tottenham's Player of the Year or for Tom Huddlestone who breezed his way through the two trial matches without ever showing any desire, purpose, or urgency.
Capello has stated on numerous occasions that he would show a preference for form and fitness over a history of failure. He showed his lack of courage and integrity by playing it safely though, too safely on a day where the FA farcically delayed naming the squad by five hours, by which time most of the country had found out the 23 players traveling to South Africa over Twitter.
There were call-ups in defence for Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King, who have struggled all year with injury. Joe Cole was included in midfield on the basis of an impressive cameo role in the unconvincing 2-1 win over Japan, not on the basis of a mediocre season. Emile Heskey's five goals for Aston Villa were valued more highly than Darren Bent's record 25-goal haul for Sunderland.
Most glaring of all, there wasdisgracefully no call-up for Dawson, a defender who has steered an under-performing Tottenham team to the bright lights and stardom of the Champions League.
Dawson, a £7 million purchase from Nottingham Forest, has steadily grown in stature at White Hart Lane. The Northallerton youngster's courage, strength in the air, and skill in the tackle have helped Spurs keep 12 clean sheets in the league, despite the team's defence having often been weakened by injuries and suspensions. He has the been the team's rock and has quickly become a fan favorite.
Without Dawson, Capello is putting his faith in a love rat who has lost the respect of many fans, two injury-prone playersone of whom accidentally missed a drug test, and another who was locked up overnight recently for violent and drunken behaviour and racial abuse and a player who is past his best form and did not want to play for his country for years.
Yes, King, Ferdinand, and Terry all have the ability to keep out the world's best attackers.
But no, they do not merit selection ahead of Dawson.
As for Carragher, it seems that Capello appreciates his versatility in central defence and on the right side.
Tom Huddlestone's omission was perhaps less surprising, given his inability to have an impact on either of the warmup matches. The former Derby players too often allows the game to pass by him and needs to make his physical presence known more often and show more desire to get on the ball.
Regrettably for Huddlestone but perhaps not for England, Gareth Barry recovered sufficiently to pass a last-minute fitness test. Former teammate Michael Carrick is below-par on a stage such as the World Cup, but was included for his greater experience for club and country on the big stage.
So, will Capello regret choosing so many defenders who are not at the physical peak of their career? Will he regret choosing Emile Heskey over Darren Bent? Only time will tell, but this was the day when the Italian made the safer choices, but not the ones he said he would, or the ones which may give England an edge in both defence and attack.
His honeymoon with the English press is over.
If these selections backfire on him, he may be forced out of the door and into the arms of Internazionale. I hope that he knows what he is doing.
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