Uncapped Dawson will give Capello real food for thought
Michael Dawson this morning resumed training with the England teammates he thought he’d said goodbye to only a few days ago.
Now he’s 16/1 to play the most minutes for England at the World Cup.
Less than 24 hours after receiving the “crazy” phone call telling him to pack his bags for South Africa, the Spurs player stepped out onto the Royal Bafokeng training complex and was warmly greeted by Fabio Capello and potential centre-back partner John Terry.
The moment was the high point of Dawson’s season so far, in which he has captained Tottenham and won two player of the season awards from the club’s fans.
Indeed, it has been a remarkable rise for the ex-Nottingham Forest trainee, who just ten months ago was Harry Redknapp’s fourth choice central defender behind Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Sebastien Bassong.
When injuries came along Dawson seized his chance, putting in a series of composed displays. He ended up starting in all bar one of the club’s 35 matches from November 22nd.
In total, Dawson made 40 appearances for Tottenham, ensured 16 clean sheets, and scored two goals. Perhaps ominously, one of these strikes came against Everton’s Tim Howard, who will likely be in goal for the USA in England’s first tournament match.
But how will the 26-year-old translate his club form to his country, for whom he has never played a single minute?
Well, an understanding with club-mate King is clearly apparent and could prove persuasive for Capello.
In the 14 games Dawson and King played together last season, eight resulted in a nil for the opposition, with only two matches lost.
In all probability it will be King who steps into Rio Ferdinand’s boots though, but such a swap would in itself provoke questions over fitness.
King did manage three games in eight days in May but with England hoping to play seven games in a month, a serious doubt remains over his ability to take the field for all, such is his chronic knee condition.
Matthew Upson is the other player travelling solely as a centre-back but his performances for West Ham have been less than convincing.
Jamie Carragher, initially drafted in as right-back cover, would be eager to play in his preferred central position. But this season has been far from satisfactory, with Carragher blamed for early season losses which appeared to mark the course of Liverpool’s season.
Dawson is healthy, in fine form and is clearly on an upward trajectory. In short, he is the kind of player that fits Capello’s brief from all those months ago.
The Italian seemed to change tack in order to accommodate Gareth Barry and Emile Heskey, but should he return to his original instincts then Dawson could yet find his season reaches even further personal heights.
How much do you think Dawson will feature? At 16/1 he is level with Upson and ahead of King (33/1) in the odds to play most minutes for England. In the Player Specials market Dawson is 1/2 to make his debut during the World Cup and 6/4 not to.