England coach Fabio Capello has named his 30-man provisional squad for this summer’s World Cup.
There are some slightly surprising inclusions, namely that of midfield pair Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone (who have seen their fine club form this season acknowledged) and the decision to gamble on the fitness of Gareth Barry rather than risk taking Owen Hargreaves (who himself has only just returned from a long-term lay-off) to the tournament.
The biggest shock, however, has to be the selection of Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher, who has been tempted by Capello to reverse the decision he made to retire from international football three years ago.
Here’s the list in full…
Goalkeepers: Rob Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City), David James (Portsmouth).
Defenders: John Terry, Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King, Michael Dawson (Spurs), Leighton Baines (Everton), Stephen Warnock (Villa), Matthew Upson (West Ham).
Midfielders: Frank Lampard, Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), James Milner (Villa), Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City), Michael Carrick (Man Utd) Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone (Spurs), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Scott Parker (West Ham).
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Darren Bent (Sunderland), Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch (Spurs) Emile Heskey (Villa).
My initial thoughts? Well for starters I’m a little disappointed to see Heskey get the nod over Bobby Zamora, as the Fulham target man’s form has far outstripped that of his Villa counterpart this season.
Of the 30-man squad I fully expect (injury permitting) Upson, Warnock, SWP, Parker, Bent, Huddlestone and Carrick to be the seven members trimmed from Capello’s final draft of 23 – and the remaining players leave England with the makings of a highly competitive collective.
That is, until you compare it with Spain‘s provisional squad (also announced today), upon which you realise that nearly all other country’s chances of prevailing at this summer’s tournament are almost non-existent!