Having been drawn into Group D alongside France, Ukraine and Sweden at the 2012 European Championships, England fans have started to wonder which 23 players manager Fabio Capello will take to his last major tournament in charge of England.
The squad selection for this tournament will be crucial, with three tight defences in England’s group and Wayne Rooney being suspended, other players will be expected to step up and provide a goal scoring threat.
Capello should take three goalkeepers to Euro 2012. Joe Hart has firmly entrenched himself in the England No. 1 jersey.
As his understudy, Capello should look to take Robert Green. Despite his blunder against the USA, Green remains a solid keeper.
As a third option, Capello should take a youngster to gain tournament experience.
I would choose Frank Fielding of Derby over David Stockdale as Fielding is three years younger and the two are of relatively similar quality at the moment.
Joe Hart (Age: 24, Club: Manchester City, Caps: 16)
Robert Green (Age: 31, Club: West Ham, Caps: 11)
Frank Fielding (Age: 23, Club: Derby County, Caps: 0)
This season has seen great performances from English full backs. At left back, Ashley Cole keeps his place with some great performances for Chelsea.
His backup can be found in Everton’s Leighton Baines, who has also performed fantastically this season, including in an England shirt.
At right back, there has been far more competition. Glen Johnson has been typically stellar going forwards, and typically exposed in defense.
Micah Richards has been a force all season, rampaging up and down the right side of the field for Manchester City. However, he has not been tested defensively much due to the quality of the team around him.
Kyle Walker of Tottenham has played himself into contention as well, including a man of the match performance for England at Wembley.
However, only two right backs can travel and therefore it’s Johnson and Walker who get the nod, with Micah Richards extending his international exile until the next manager comes in.
Ashley Cole (Age: 30, Club: Chelsea, Caps: 93)
Glen Johnson (Age: 27, Club: Liverpool, Caps: 35)
Leighton Baines (Age: 26, Club: Everton, Caps: 6)
Kyle Walker (Age: 21, Club: Tottenham Hotspur, Caps: 2)
Injuries to Ledley King and Rio Ferdinand during the World Cup campaign damaged England’s chances in South Africa. Therefore, Capello should look to take less injury-prone centre backs this time around.
England captain John Terry keeps his place, but Rio Ferdinand loses his. In his place is Gary Cahill, who has played well so far this season for Bolton, despite his red card against Tottenham, and has been in constant demand from top six sides.
To back them up, Manchester United’s Phil Jones has earned a spot in the squad with some great performances so far this year. Phil Jagielka takes the other reserve centre back spot.
John Terry (C) (Age: 30, Club: Chelsea, Caps: 72)
Gary Cahill (Age: 25, Club: Bolton Wanderers, Caps: 7)
Phil Jones (Age: 19, Club: Manchester United, Caps: 3)
Phil Jagielka (Age: 29, Club: Everton, Caps: 10)
Since Gareth Barry was exposed by Mesut Ozil at the World Cup, he has lost his role as a holding midfielder and has been replaced by Scott Parker.
Parker has looked comfortable and confident in an England shirt, and has established himself within the side.
As his backup, Capello should take Everton’s Jack Rodwell. Rodwell has long been pinpointed for England duty, and deserves his place in the side.
Having come through the Everton ranks as a centre back, and later moved into midfield, Rodwell offers a talented prospect as a defensive midfielder.
Scott Parker (Age: 31, Club: Tottenham Hotspur, Caps: 10)
Jack Rodwell (Age: 20, Club: Everton, Caps: 2)
Jack Wilshere, on returning from injury, will likely slot straight back into the side.
Alongside him should be Steven Gerrard. Despite the fact that he’s getting up there in age, Gerrard has been a steady servant to England and still has enough in the tank to perform for England at one last tournament.
Taking two reserves for the starters would more than compensate in cases of injury. James Milner, while primarily a winger, has played well for Manchester City this season and offers versatility in midfield.
His club teammate Gareth Barry also gets the call.
Jack Wilshire (Age: 19, Club: Arsenal, Caps: 5)
Steven Gerrard (Age: 31, Club: Liverpool, Caps: 89)
James Milner (Age: 25, Club: Manchester City, Caps: 23)
Gareth Barry (Age: 30, Club: Manchester City, Caps: 51)
Fabio Capello said that he regretted not taking Theo Walcott to South Africa for the World Cup. He therefore gets the nod.
Ashley Young has been stellar since joining Manchester United, and also will be in the squad. The reserve spot should be filled by Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon.
Lennon and Walcott have shown through this season that they have improved their end product instead of just being pure speedsters, further justifying their selection.
Aaron Lennon (Age: 24, Club: Tottenham Hotspur, Caps: 19)
Ashley Young (Age: 26, Club: Manchester United, Caps: 18)
Theo Walcott (Age: 22, Club: Arsenal, Caps: 21)
With the suspension of Wayne Rooney and Capello’s new preference for having one central striker, he doesn’t make the squad.
Instead, Daniel Sturridge will make the squad in his place. The Chelsea striker has looked good this season with seven league goals so far.
Darren Bent seems to have cemented himself within Capello’s plans, and therefore will also go to the Euro’s. Danny Welbeck offers a similar type of striker to Sturridge, and should go as third choice.
However, this selection is risky as the three have only four international goals between them, all of which belong to Darren Bent.
Daniel Sturridge (Age: 22, Club: Chelsea, Caps: 1)
Darren Bent (Age: 27, Club: Aston Villa, Caps: 13)
Danny Welbeck (Age: 21, Club: Manchester United, Caps: 3)
Aston Villa: 1
Bolton Wanderers: 1
Derby County: 1
Manchester City: 3
Manchester United: 3
Tottenham Hotspur: 3
West Ham: 1