England manager Fabio Capello will name his latest England squad on Monday after the dust has settled on the weekend’s Premier League action.
The Three Lions will look to continue their bright start to Euro 2012 qualification as Montenegro visit Wembley next Tuesday. Like England, Montenegro also boast a 100 per cent record in the group so far, having picked up wins over Wales and Bulgaria last month.
The Three Lions will again be without Frank Lampard after the Chelsea star was ruled out for the next couple of weeks as he recovers from his hernia operation.
Wayne Rooney is also a doubt for the game. Club manager Sir Alex Ferguson initially ruled the striker out of action for two to three weeks but has now suggested that the forward will be fit in time for England’s match next Tuesday.
Rooney’s potential absence, however, did look set to open the door for a first England call up for Andy Carroll. The Newcastle No. 9 has been left out of Stuart Pearce’s under-21 squad and now looks likely to feature in Capello’s thinking.
Carroll was only on the bench for his side’s defeat against Manchester City yesterday and rumours abound that his exclusion from the under-21 squad stemmed from a fall-out with manager Stuart Pearce.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether this absence also points towards a first ever senior call up.
Capello looks likely to stick with his three goalkeepers of choice with Joe Hart continuing as No. 1 with Ben Foster and Scott Carson providing back-up.
Rob Green returned to form with a strong display against Spurs last weekend but may continue to find himself out in the cold post-World Cup.
In defence the big news should be the return of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. Terry missed the games against Bulgaria and Switzerland last month whilst Ferdinand has only appeared in two of England’s 10 games so far this year.
Capello used four centre-backs in the two games last month but with Dawson injured it should now be a simple case of retaining Phil Jagielka, Joelon Lescott, and Gary Cahill with Matt Upson most likely to be cut from the squad.
Kieran Gibbs has been named in the under-21 squad this time out so Capello will probably opt to use Lescott as back-up to Ashley Cole at left-back.
On the right-hand side of defence it will be interesting once more to see if Capello names a second right-back to compete with Glen Johnson.
Micah Richards was the most likely by far but, like Gibbs, was named in the under-21 squad and so remains uncapped by Capello and hasn’t been included in a senior squad since 2008.
Lampard’s continued absence means that Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry should continue their central midfield partnership which worked well in the September qualifiers.
James Milner was booked in each of those games and is now suspended for the Montenegro game so will miss out on this occasion.
Also out of contention is Theo Walcott. The Arsenal man was injured early on in England’s win in Switzerland and is still a few weeks away from returning.
Milner and Walcott’s respective absences should open the door for the likes of Aaron Lennon, Stewart Downing or Joe Cole to return to the squad.
Lennon and Cole have both been struggling for form of late whilst Downing has enjoyed a bright start to the season with three goals in six matches but Capello has plenty of options to pick from out wide.
Downing’s club teammate Ashley Young will retain his place in the squad and may push to start along with Adam Johnson, who scored in both September qualifiers, on the flanks.
Michael Carrick and Tom Huddlestone will compete to back-up Gareth Barry in the defensive midfield spot although space is unlikely to be found to include Jack Wilshere in the squad after he too was selected for the under-21s.
Wilshere made his senior debut in the friendly win over Hungary in August and has continued to impress for the Gunners recently but looks set to wait to add to his one senior cap.
Up front Wayne Rooney will be Capello’s biggest worry but if he is unavailable for selection then the Italian should still be able to find enough fire power from elsewhere.
Jermain Defoe will also be missing with an ankle injury which means that Darren Bent will be favourite to fill the No. 9 shirt.
Bent netted England’s third as a substitute in the win in Basel last month but may face competition from Peter Crouch who famously boasts a superb scoring record at international level.
Carlton Cole made the squad last time out but has yet to find the net for West Ham this season and found himself on the bench for the Hammers' last two games.
Bobby Zamora is still a long way from fitness which should count in Cole’s favour and his spot is expected to be challenged by Newcastle’s Andy Carroll.
The young striker continues to impress on his return to the Premier League and, unlike Gibbs, Richards and Wilshere, has been left out of the under-21 squad hinting at his probable inclusion in the senior squad for the first time.
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