Andy Gray column: Chelsea’s Cahill and Man City’s Lescott should start
England Roy Hodgson has a big decision as to who he pairs at centre back for the World Cup qualifiers, writes Andy Gray
With John Terry out of the equation, Roy Hodgson has a big decision as to who he pairs at centre back against San Marino and Poland – and my gut feeling is he will go with Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott.
Roy also has Phil Jagielka and Ryan Shawcross but he has quite liked Lescott throughout his time in charge of England.
However, Joleon is out of the Manchester City side and that may go against him and likewise Cahill is not playing every game for Chelsea.
Ryan plays every game for Stoke when he’s available though and so does Phil, so if you’re looking for that then you could see them getting the nod.
But as long as Roy doesn’t think they’re lacking match practice though I would fully expect him to choose Gary and Joleon.
We know there will be one or two rested against San Marino, and Ashley Cole is one that could miss out because Leighton Baines has received too few caps for the way he’s played over the last five years.
But there are very few positions where there is somebody of the quality of Ashley who is ahead of you, and that’s why he has 98 caps.
Roy will want to have a look at a few more players but I certainly think if he’s fit then Ashley would be back against Poland.
I can’t see anything other than an England win – you still have to turn up and get the first goal, and up until England do it’s always going to be a little nervy.
I’m not saying the floodgates will open but as soon as England get ahead the players will be able to relax and I can see them winning fairly comfortably.
That’s what these games against weaker opposition in the group are for – if you can get to half time 2-0 or 3-0 then it gives you the opportunity to take off some of your established stars and have a look at the youngsters.
It also means the established stars don’t have to play 90 minutes which the club managers would be very happy about.
If people like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Tom Cleverley don’t start, Roy can bring on and say ‘go on then’.
There’s no doubt Roy will pick his best side against Poland though. They aren’t a top-bracket team but I watched them at Euro 2012 and they’re certainly a threat.
But they’ve lost the Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski, who’s an important player for them, and that’s definitely a blow.
England should be good enough to get some sort of result but Roy has to go into it and try to at worst get a draw. If they can then they would be in a fine place.
I watched Poland play Greece in the opening game at the Euros and I thought in the first half when they went 1-0 up they were fantastic.
They moved the ball well and Robert Lewandowski was a threat but then in the second half it was like watching a different team.
They can be beaten – the Czechs did it in Warsaw – but England shouldn’t be frightened of them. Player for player, England have a better team.
It goes without saying Wayne Rooney will come back into the side, but it’s where, how and who with.
I think Roy will play Wayne as a deep lying forward midfield player, in that little hole,
just behind Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll or Jermain Defoe.
If you look at those three Jermain is the one in form at the moment and I would expect him to start against Poland.
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