Aside from the Gerrard/Lampard debate, England’s traditional selection problem has been who to play on the left-wing due to a dearth of decent candidates. The current conundrum is who to play on the right, but the reasons are quite opposite.
Fabio Capello has a multitude of options for the right-side of midfield. David Beckham is very much back in the fold and, although he is unlikely to get past his man without the aid of a zimmerframe, he is still the best crosser of the ball in the game. The Italian seems reluctant to give his MLS representative a starting berth, but he knows exactly what his former Real Madrid player is capable of.
With young Theo Walcott the opposite is true. The speed merchant will run rings around full-backs all day long but there remain question marks over the consistency of the Arsenal youngster’s final ball. His hat-trick against Croatia won plenty of plaudits, but in the aftermath many pundits have been arguing that he still lacks the confidence and composure to be considered an international regular at the moment.
If Beckham is the past and Walcott is the future, does that make Shaun Wright Phillips the present? The pint-sized winger has been rejuvenated by his summer return to Manchester City and is beginning to look like the player Chelsea signed. Though not as quick as Walcott, SWP does have more pace than your average defender can handle. He has also proved what many onlookers have said for some time: his game relies on confidence and consistency. With regular first-team football, the 26-year-old is a completely different player. Hence Fabio Capello’s decision to recall him. Former Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole’s absence might see Wright-Phillips filling in on the left though.
Another candidate is Steven Gerrard. Some say he is wasted out of the midfield, but his powerful running and accurate passing are useful to have on the flank too. His versatility would see him rather than Lampard moved from the centre should Capello decide to maintain a defensive presence in the middle of the park.
David Bentley’s absence from the England squad says as much about the options currently available to Fabio Capello as it does about Bentley’s disastrous start to the season with Spurs. The pro-Bentley voices within the White Hart Lane faithful protest that the winger’s form has not been that bad and that he is has been played out of position. But in leaving Bentley out, Capello has added some credibility to the claims that he would always pick his England squad’s on current form and not on reputation alone. Bentley will be back.
So the options of plentiful, but who do you think is the right man for the job?