Capello risks all on Barry by omitting Parker and Huddlestone
Fabio Capello has pinned all his hopes on Gareth Barry regaining full fitness after the England manger left out Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker from the World Cup squad.
It’s no secret that Capello is a fan of the Manchester City midfielder – he’s started 19 of the Italian’s 23 games in charge – but the boss’s desire to have him in the starting XI has been made clear with only Michael Carrick travelling as a like-for-like alternative.
Huddlestone apparently suffered the same fate as Leighton Baines and Theo Walcott, by being given minutes on the pitch to stake a claim for the spot only to prove to Capello he was not up to the job.
Conversely, Scott Parker didn’t play once, leading Harry Redknapp to today claim that West Ham’s player of the season was made to feel “like a ghost” during the England camp, despite impressive displays in training.
So Capello desperately wants Barry in there, but should he not be fit for the opening game against the USA, as expected, then the manager will have to resort to Plan B.
Michael Carrick is the obvious choice, but he is low in confidence following a season that nose-dived dramatically. He hasn’t started for Manchester United since a weak showing against Bayern Munich and his performance against Mexico reminded people of his liability to disappear during games.
The argument over whether Gerrard and Lampard could play in the centre together has also resurfaced. Could they take it in turns to sit and hold, while the other one bombs forward?
Euro 2004 was England’s most goal-productive tournament in recent years and it saw Gerrard and Lampard start together. Lampard got three goals, while Gerrard scored one.
Paul Scholes was also in the side then though, again showing the need for a midfield fulcrum. Neither of those two is naturally suited to such a job.
The Mexico game proposed that James Milner could play there, but his below-par performance offered little real hope, and it would seem unwise to force the player into an unaccustomed destructive role in his first international tournament.
Ledley King has played well there for Spurs but looked ill at ease for England, while versatile Jamie Carragher would surely be too much of a wild card.
All these ill-fitting choices show that Barry’s loss would be a major blow to England’s defensive stability as well as their freedom to attack. And even when he is fit, will he be instantly match sharp? With a lack of alternatives, maybe England’s chances at the World Cup should be readdressed.