England Euro 2012 Squad: Analysing Roy Hodgson's Striker Options
New England manager Roy Hodgson has named his Euro 2012 squad ahead of the two forthcoming International friendlies, and has created plenty of headlines already by leaving out the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Micah Richards.
Hodgson also had big decisions to make up front, where England will be without talismanic forward Wayne Rooney for the first two group stage matches before he returns to the fold for the final match against Ukraine.
Here we take a look at each striker to analyze what they'll bring to the table for England and how they would best be utilized.
73 caps, 28 goals
Might as well start with the first choice forward.
Rooney will sit out games against France and Sweden to serve a suspension, but makes the squad under the assumption that he will offer England enough in the final game—and beyond that, again with an assumption that England make it past the group stage.
The United forward has been in great form at club level this season, scoring 34 goals in all competitions—having spent a small portion of the early part of the campaign in the centre of midfield.
Rooney is precocious, talented and gifted, and arguably the biggest match-winner England has at their disposal.
He is also liable for a moment of madness which could see him dismissed when things aren't going well.
Capable of playing on his own, off a central striker or right up top as part of a two, Rooney's position upon his return will be determined by England's needs.
Four or six points from the first two matches means he can slot straight into the team in place of the starting forward—but what if that forward was a big reason England picked up those points?
If the Three Lions need a big win to qualify, expect Rooney to play on his own up top, with options from the bench to support him if needed.
3 caps, 1 goal
One of two largely untried strikers in the England squad at this level, Andy Carroll could be one of two things for his country.
He could be a plan B, someone to turn to when things aren't working out. A physical presence who gives teams a completely different problem to his team mates.
Or, he could be Roy Hodgson's plan A while Wayne Rooney is out.
Carroll has the presence, the shooting ability and the point to prove—and coming into the tournament, he has the form.
After nothing short of a disastrous beginning two-thirds of a season, Carroll came strong for Liverpool at the back end of the campaign, culminating in late winning goals against Blackburn Rovers and Everton. Also, he won back to back Man of the Match awards against Chelsea.
He still has a lot to do to show he is worthy of being a starter, for club or country, but he might just turn out to be the not-so-secret weapon England have brought along with them.
Carroll is strong enough, big enough and his off the ball movement has improved enough so that he can play up top on his own. However, he works well with somebody making runs off him, looking for knock-downs and runs through beyond the defense.
The Liverpool forward likes to get the ball to feet in deep areas, then lay it off to an advancing midfielder—leaving space behind himself for his forward partner to move into.
Look out for this if Carroll is paired with our next striker in particular at any point...
46 caps, 15 goals
If Defoe exits this tournament still not having reached the half century of caps, you get the feeling that England's nearly-man might just get fed up enough to call time on his career.
Indeed, this could well be the 29-year old's last chance to have an impact at an International tournament.
Defoe has good movement in and around the penalty box, is capable of shooting with both feet from both inside or outside the 18 yard line, and is likely to be one of the first substitutes England turn to when they trail and need a quick goal.
The thing is, he's not often enough the one they turn to start a game.
Defoe is a goal scorer, but contributes little when working from the front, with build-up play with the second line of midfielders, or even when working the channels.
Almost certainly only a striker who will play if England go with two up front, but one that can operate with a variety of team mates; Rooney who drops deep and Carroll with his physicality being the best picks.
4 caps, 0 goals
The only England forward included without an International level goal to his name, Welbeck has just completed his first campaign as a United regular, netting 12 goals in all competitions.
Welbeck offers something that none of the other forwards do, in that he can play wider roles—but the number of players included in Hodgon's squad who are more naturally inclined to fill those positions means he will probably not be asked to do so.
Nonetheless, Welbeck does work the channels well and is confident with the ball at his feet, able to receive and lay off passes quickly around the edge of the box.
Welbeck's single greatest failing at this stage of his fledgling career is undoubtedly his finishing, which still requires plenty of work if he is to reach the upper echelons of players.
His understanding from his club with Wayne Rooney may be of some benefit later in the competition, but for the first two games Welbeck might have to be content with hoping for some minutes off the bench.
The fact that he has been picked at all is a vote of confidence, while other candidates were left out.
Welbeck's tall frame and upper body strength means he could play as easily in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 as in a 4-4-2, but his ball retention is perhaps best suited for playing alongside at least one playing partner.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool, 90 caps, 19 goals
The Liverpool captain who is now the England captain, Steven Gerrard will lead the nation in Ukraine/Poland and may likely start the tournament playing just behind club team mate Andy Carroll in a 4-2-3-1 set-up.
His driving runs, ability to shoot from in or outside the box and willingness to get involved in link up play make him a phenomenal and powerful number 10.
Theo Walcott, Arsenal, 22 caps, 3 goals
Walcott's only three goals to date for England came in the same match—a hat trick against Croatia. The speedy winger will likely only get game time on the right flank during Euro 2012, if he is called upon at all, but is an alternative to play centrally if England needs pace there.
Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea, 2 caps, 0 goals
On standby for the England Euro 2012 squad, Daniel Sturridge might feel a little unlucky that he has missed out on the tournament after some fine early season form—but losing his place in the Chelsea side since Roberto di Matteo took over seems to have cost him dearly in that regard.
If he is needed because of an injury to another player, Sturridge has the pace and single-mindedness around the penalty area to be a threat to any side, and can play on either flank in a 4-3-3 as well as centrally.