Our pick: England squad for South Africa
With the qualification stage complete, the thoughts of every English football fan will turn to next year’s showpiece in South Africa.
Fabio Capello has brought a renewed sense of optimism to the national team. The Italian has time to fine-tune his starting eleven and ponder over the members of his 23-man squad before stepping on the plane to South Africa next summer.
Who will be in his World Cup squad? Here is The Sport Review’s selection.
Robert Green – West Ham United
Green has been favoured in recent matches until receiving a red card against Ukraine.
David James – Portsmouth
Brings a wealth of experience to the squad. He could yet re-establish himself as England’s first choice ‘keeper.
Ben Foster – Manchester United
Foster has made some high profile errors for United since deputising for the injured Edwin Van Der Saar. But his instinctive save against Ukraine is one reason why he should make the cut.
John Terry – Chelsea
He is the England captain and his role at the heart of England’s defence remains crucial.
Rio Ferdinand – Manchester United
In recent weeks has come in for much criticism for mistakes against Holland and Ukraine, but accusations that he is past his best are simply ridiculous.
Ashley Cole – Chelsea
Ever present at left back, he is one of the truly world class players that England possesses.
Glen Johnson – Liverpool
There have been questions raised over his defensive capabilities but enjoys the trust of Capello and should start at right back next summer.
Wayne Bridge – Manchester City
The deputy to Ashley Cole and provides reliable cover in the event of the Chelsea full back picking up an injury.
Wes Brown – Manchester United
Provide vital cover at both right back and centre back.
Matthew Upson – West Ham United
Under Capello, Upson appears to be England’s third choice central defender especially with the reoccurring imjuries to Jonathon Woodgate and Ledley King.
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool
One of the most gifted midfielders of his generation. It’s now time for Liverpool’s talismanic captain to do it on the biggest stage in world football.
Frank Lampard – Chelsea
For years critics complained Lampard and Gerrard couldn’t play in the same midfield. Capello seems to have rectified the problem and Lampard will be looking to chip in with more goals.
Gareth Barry – Manchester City
He is a versatile midfielder who offers a different option with his majestic left foot. He will be prepared to battle for the midfield role with Carrick and Hargreaves.
Michael Carrick – Manchester United
Carrick could find himself in direct competition from club teammate Owen Hargreaves for a place in Capello’s squad.
Aaron Lennon – Tottenham Hotspur
If Lennon can sustain his fine club form then he presumably will make the cut.
James Milner – Aston Villa
He can play in the centre, on the right or on the left. A player willing to graft, if selected he would provide a variety of different options for Capello.
David Beckham – LA Galaxy
The England veteran has vast experience at this level. A fourth World Cup, his set piece ability and passing range would make him a real threat against any team.
Ashley Young – Aston Villa
The left winger showed great form for Villa last season. He has become a regular in Capello’s squad and will be looking to cement his place for South Africa throughout the duration of the league campaign.
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
The most naturally gifted English player, Rooney will prove crucial to any hopes England harbour of reaching the latter stages of the competition.
Carlton Cole – West Ham United
His large frame makes him a nuisance for opposition defenders. He also possesses a good first touch and a ferocious shot.
Darren Bent – Sunderland
Bent has been at his clinical best since moving to the Stadium of Light. If he can keep up his goalscoring form he has a very real chance of making the cut.
Theo Walcott – Arsenal
Walcott was the wildcard that Sven Goran Eriksson brought to the last World Cup. This time the Arsenal forward will be looking to see some playing time and his electric pace would terrify the opposition.
Jermaine Defoe – Tottenham Hotspur
Defoe has been used as the super sub for England lately. He will be looking to cement his position in the squad and vie for a starting spot.