Yesterday's news that Wayne Rooney's ban for his sending off against Montenegro is three games will not have been pleasant reading for Fabio Capello. This means that England's front man will miss all of their group games at Euro 2012.
This begs the question of what Capello's plan will be for those matches, and who will figure in them.
With Steven Gerrard returning from injury, Capello is likely to play a lone striker ahead of him, with Young and Walcott playing out wide.
The front-runner at the moment would appear to be Aston Villa's Darren Bent. Rooney aside, he has played the most prominent role for England in recent games. His goal against Montenegro will probably be enough to ensure that he starts the friendly with Spain next month.
This does appear to be the most sensible option. Bent scores for fun in the Premiership and has an OK international record, with four goals in 11 games. He is yet to really nail down his place though, which does leave the door open for someone else to impress.
The rest of the likely options are very similar to Bent. These are fast strikers who are vulnerable in the air—Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe are all thought to be in Fabio's mind.
Each striker has pace in abundance. In terms of experience, Defoe is the clear winner with 46 appearances for his country. After nearly 50 caps however, he hasn't been able to impose himself on the squad. A younger face might prove to be a more attractive option for Capello. Enter Welbeck and Sturridge.
Welbeck may suffer from having too much hype surrounding him too fast. He is yet to play 50 senior league games, and has only scored 11 league goals. If Welbeck has an outstanding season with United then he may merit inclusion, but as it stands he is too green to be considered England's Plan A without Rooney.
The same argument stands for Sturridge. He too may need to rely on a good season to propel him into the team at the Euro's. This could be a problem for him at Chelsea, where first team opportunities may not be as forthcoming as he would wish.
Capello needs to think about who can dispatch the smaller nations and steer England safely through the group stage.
The answer is simple, Peter Crouch.
Crouch has an impressive scoring record with England, scoring 22 in 42 matches. Yet he still struggles to make the squad. That scoring record is often called into question because the goals were scored against the 'lesser' nations of international football. Perfect!
Of Defoe's 15 international goals, only one has been scored against a big nation (a friendly with Holland). On the basis of this alone, Crouch should be considered ahead of the Spurs man.
The problem with the three names mentioned above is a lack of variety. Crouch is simply a bully against lesser defenders, and his hold up play should allow Young, Gerrard and Walcott ample opportunities to get into the box.
He may not fit into Fabio's idea of how the beautiful game should be played, but he gets the job done. Next summer that is all England are going to need.
While Crouch remains the best option, he is unlikely to be picked. In all honesty it shouldn't matter. England should be able to qualify from their group without Wayne. Playing competitively without him for three games may give the England team some variety when Rooney returns for the knockout stage.
What are your opinions? Have I missed anyone out? Would there be space for Andy Carroll or Gabby Agbonlahor on your plane to the finals? Post your thoughts below.
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