>England vs France preview: Capello enters the world of the unknown

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Fabio Capello. http://www.postproduktie.nl/voe...Image via Wikipedia

Following a disastrous World Cup that saw England return far earlier than most expected, Fabio Capello has decided to experiment in tonight’s match against France. The only team who managed to have a worse tournament than The Three Lions.


The twenty three man squad contains some unfamiliar faces in the form of Cardiff striker Jay Bothroyd, Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson, and Manchester United centre back Chris Smalling. The rest of the squad contains previously capped players, but England find themselves without the likes of Rooney, Terry and Lampard due to various injury problems. With this in mind, VN believes Capello will choose to play Gerrard off  new boyAndy Carroll, and play a four man midfield with pace down the flanks. It is the striking department that looks most unusual though. England, who have relied on the likes of Rooney, Owen and Shearer in recent years, now appear to be searching for a new talisman. Capello has opted for human giants in the form of Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll, while Carlton Cole and Jay Bothroyd are the other two strikers. All of the forwards are big physical presences, and could give an insight into what type of game Capello is aiming to play. Only time will tell whether the call up of Bothyroyd is a masterstroke, or a flop like the last time a Championship player was called up…David Nugent.


The midfield options look exciting. If VN’s prediction of Gerrard playing behind Carroll happens, we can see Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson operating down the flanks, perhaps alternating wings to supply the crosses for Carroll to nod home. The centre of midfield options are also interesting. Capello could choose the experience Gareth Barry to play alongside any of the youngsters such as Wilshire or Henderson, which would leave Milner with a place on the bench. This midfield has the perfect blend of youth and experience, as well as pace and creativity, and could well be too much for the French.


This leads VN to the back four. Without the injured Terry, Ferdinand will be the experienced head at the back,  most likely alongside Phil Jagielka. The full back positions appear to be up for grabs in the absence of Ashley Cole and the dropped Glenn Johnson. Micah Richards, another surprise call up, could be deployed at right back despite failing to impress at Eastlands, while Warnock or Gibbs could get the nod at left back. It will be left for Joe Hart to further develop his reputation as England’s number one.


Although on paper the names may not light up the page and do appear very workmanlike, the players Capello has selected certainly bring an element of the unknown. This inventive move from Capello could well be the much needed move away from the ‘Bigtime Charlie’ reputation that England players of recent times have rightly been accused of.


by Oliver Holmes



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