England interim manager Stuart Pearce has this week revealed that the England squad for Euro 2012 will be named before the end of the Premier League campaign, whether a new permanent boss is in place or not. With the last game of the season on Sunday 13th May, it is reasonable to expect the successful and unsuccessful players to be unveiled a couple of days before this.
While we wait for the FA to get their act together, the best way to predict how England will fare at the Euros is not to look at the manager (that didn’t help them in South Africa) and look at the players who will be stepping out for the Three Lions in Ukraine and Poland.
Joe Hart is a shoe-in, and the Manchester City stopper is an outside shout to be the next national captain. Consistent, agile and assured, Hart is a real attribute to the home nation.
GK to go: Hart, Carson, Stockdale
GK to miss out: Ruddy
John Terry’s inclusion or exclusion could well depend on the new boss, with the consideration of Rio Ferdinand also entering into the equation; the Chelsea centre half is to stand court for racially abusing the Manchester United man’s brother Anton. Other central defenders to be included should be Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Joleon Lescott.
At left back Ashley Cole will travel, whilst Leighton Baines is currently injured but will recover in time. On the right, PFA Young Player of the Year Kyle Walker will expect to be included, as will seasoned international Glen Johnson. Micah Richards has been an outcast under Fabio Capello, but under-21 boss Pearce would surely select his former player, potentially to the detriment of the Liverpool man.
DF to go: Walker, Richards, Cahill, Terry, Lescott, Jones, Cole, Baines
DF to miss out: Ferdinand, King, Johnson, Dawson, Smalling
England will most likely play four across midfield, and this will be the most tightly-contested element of the squad. Scott Parker and Frank Lampard are almost certainties, Steven Gerrard hangs in the balance depending on fitness, Paul Scholes is an outside shout, whilst Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell and Jack Wilshere will miss out through injury.
On the flanks, Ashley Young will travel if he stays fit, as will Stewart Downing despite an inconsistent campaign. Aaron Lennon needs to get back to his best, Jordan Henderson looks unlikely whilst Arsenal team-mates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may well be in direct competition for a place.
MF to go: Young, Downing, Barry, Parker, Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes, Walcott
MF to miss out: Wilshere, Rodwell, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lennon, Henderson, Joe Cole, Cleverley, Carrick, Milner, A.Johnson
Although Wayne Rooney will be suspended for the first two group games of the tournament, it will take a brave manager to leave out the Manchester United forward. Darren Bent faces a risk against time due to his knee injury, whilst Andy Carroll will need a strong end of season to convince the selectors. Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge should be included, whilst Jermain Defoe is a 50-50.
ST to go: Rooney, Welbeck, Sturridge, Defoe
ST to miss out: Bent, Carroll, Crouch
England Euro 2012 Predictions
England’s Euro 2012 group contains France (5th favourites), Sweden and hosts Ukraine.
Group Games Prediction
England vs France, June 11: Old enemies renew their rivalry in the Group D opener, and these two will be favourites to progress. Without Rooney England may lack direction in attack, and will need to be regimented to stave off the advances of Ribery, Benzema and Remy.
England vs Sweden, June 15: The Three Lions have suffered disappointment against the Scandinavian nation in international competitions in the past, and Sweden are a slightly unpredictable entity. Led by AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedes will be no pushover.
England vs Ukraine, June 19: With a tight group likely to go down to the wire, England will face co-hosts Ukraine in the last round of fixtures in what will be a test of their character and resolve. Rooney’s return will be a boost, but England must be at their best to quell a pumped-up opponent and crowd.
Prediction: 2-1 win
If England do progress from their group, it will take a mammoth effort from the players and the manager to banish their farcical build up to the Euros and produce match-winning performances (not just moments of brilliance). We’ve made our Euro 2012 predictions here, but with England’s recent form, just progress beyond the group stages would be a decent step forward.
Who would you pick in your England squad, and how do you rate England’s chances at the European championships this summer?