Can McClaren get England off to a racing start?

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Yesterday, Steve McClaren ushered in what he will hope to herald as a ‘new era’ in English football, and one which differs radically from that of his predecessor; the much-maligned, hapless Sven Goran-Eriksson.

With that in mind, many players who found themselves out of favour under the Swede may now see the window of opportunity opening as they seek to reignite their international careers.

I thus put it to you:

what would you do differently?

Which players need to be dropped? Which positions are up for grabs? Who deserves a second chance? To whom would you hand a debut? How would you set up your team?

My first comment concerns David Beckham. Certain sections of the media have been quick to suggest that the end of Beckham’s tenure as captain could also signal the effective end of his England career. These members of the media have clearly never watched La Liga! To advocate Beckham’s omission from the England squad is nothing short of myopic lunacy! Beckham remains at the peak of his game at club level (he was probably Real Madrid’s most consistent player last season, at least until he was forced to play right-back in Cicinho’s stead, and even this he did successfully), and I say this in spite of being an avid Spurs (and Aaron Lennon) fan. I would like to see Beckham and Lennon in the same team — I’m just not sure how. England really do have a plethora of exciting midfield talent.

OK, Beckham rant over.

Here are some of the players I would like to see given opportunities in the coming months:

Kevin Nolan:

Kevin Nolan has always been a talented and tenacious player, and I feel that he has taken his game up a notch in the last two seasons. He blends class with persistence and possesses the English mentality we love so much. Though Nolan would undoubtedly face a hell of a task to displace any of the central midfielders in front of him, he certainly deserves a chance to do so.

Gareth Barry:

For many football fans, Gareth Barry’s repeated omission from the England squad is one of life’s greatest mysteries (and NO, I am not a delusional Aston Villa fan). Barry has been a consistent performer in the Premiership for many years, is a naturally left-sided player and can attack and defend in equal measure. He captained the U21 side admirably and yet has been perpetually denied the opportunity to step up a level to the full squad. Incidentally, I have no doubt that a move away from Villa would further Barry’s credentials.

Scott Parker:

If Scott Parker can avoid injuries, he is one of the most exciting players in English football. Loved by the Newcastle and Chelsea fans alike for his combative style, Parker never shirks a tackle, covers lots of ground whilst equally possessing a great deal of attacking ability, particularly when shooting from long-range. I am a huge fan of Michael Carrick (though perhaps not as big a fan as Alan Hansen), but I feel that Scott Parker has the right game to challenge Carrick’s designs on the holding role.

These are just a few of the names I considered whilst writing this article (an honourable mention must go to Jermaine Pennant, Nigel Reo-Coker, Dean Ashton, Matthew Bates and Anton Ferdinand, amongst many others).

Please post your own suggestions.

N.B. This is a diagnostic exercise and I sincerely hope that this discussion will not descend into calumny and dogmatism.

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