Joe Cole, assured of a left-midfield berth and Peter Crouch, third striker in England after Rooney and Owen (Defoe’s lack of match practice plus poor form may cost him), have both staked their claims as the ideal Plan B (see here and here).
Over at BlogFC, they talk about possible England team formations at the World Cup (this was taken off a recent tv spot, if I remember correctly). Not one of them discuss Owen and Crouch up front, which is going to be Eriksson’s MOST likely formation assuming that Rooney isn’t fit for Paraguay.
And speaking of Rooney, here’s the scoop on Fifa’s regulations regarding injuries to key players:
If the national FA can provide medical documentation that a key player is injured but has a chance of recovery, the FA will allow the country to name that player in their squads provisionally until 24 hours before their first match. If the player is not fit till then, the manager can pull him out and replace him with another player (from the initial list of 26).
So expect Eriksson to name Rooney in the squad and also expect Eriksson to play the following formation:
GK – Robinson
Back 4 (left to right) – Ashley Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, Neville
Midfield (left to right) – Joe Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham
Strikers (L to R) – Peter Crouch, Michael Owen
England could possibly be better off with a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Carrick playing the holding role and Owen up front alone, as that gives Gerrard and Lampard the freedom to go forward, where they’re most effective. Becks and Cole will benefit too. But if that’s the approach, then Owen had better be at the top of his game.