Today England fans were greeted with the sobering news that captain Rio Ferdinand will miss the entire World Cup due to a knee injury.
Speculation on his replacement quickly became a hot topic amongst the English press, former national team captains, and of course England's rabid supporters. So who would make the best partner to play alongside John Terry when England open their World Cup campaign against the United States?
Ledley King seems have a leg up over his competition as many media outlets have tipped the Spurs captain to replace Ferdinand. England manager Fabio Capello clearly rates the defender and has lavished praise upon him when interviewed. King recaptured the terrific form of his youth and played a large part in Tottenham reaching fourth spot in the Premier League.
The biggest issue in starting King would be the risk of the defender causing more damage to his troublesome knees. It is well known that King's knees swell up after matches and it usually takes around a week for the swelling to go down. After opening up against USA on June 12, England face Algeria on the 18th and six days may not be enough time for Ledley to recover.
Jamie Carragher's return came as a surprise to some after the defender chose to retire from international football after being unhappy with his role under Capello's predecessor Steve McClaren. Capello tried desperately to lure Carragher back out of retirement for the past few years but recently convinced the Liverpool to have a "u-turn" on his decision.
Carragher has been one of the most durable players of the Premier League era. He also holds Liverpool's record for most European appearances and has the vital experience in playing in two Champions League finals. Jamie leads King in England appearances by 16 and unlike King took part in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
West Ham's Matthew Upson finally received the praise he sorely deserved for many years and actually only has one less England appearance than King. Upson is an underrated talent but lacks experience in International tournaments.
With Ferdinand's absence, Spurs defender Michael Dawson was suddenly called into the England squad. Dawson won Tottenham's Player of the Year award but is yet to make an appearance for the national team.
Judging by the evidence, Carragher should replace Ferdinand in the England lineup. His massive big-game experience and durability are strong reasons for Capello to select the Liverpool defender. Carragher could give Capello the continuity he's looking for and could form a solid partnership with John Terry. The two defenders are no-nonsense men on the pitch and both have "never say die" mentalities that inspire their teammates.
England supporters should trust whoever their Italian manager chooses as Fabio Capello is as experienced as any manager in the world. Fabio surely knows what is needed to replace the void left by Ferdinand's injury as he's worked with world-class defenders throughout his distinguished managerial career.
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