Young steps off bench to deliver cutting edge

After half-time boos Capello reverses mysterious decision to omit Villa man


Fabio Capello's decision to call Ashley Young off the bench looked like a moment of inspiration when the Aston Villa winger scored a much-needed equaliser within six minutes of his introduction.

England had been booed off the pitch at half-time by an impatient crowd, many thousands of whom were made to miss the first 20 minutes of the match due to overcrowded turnstiles.

The puzzle was why Young had been left out of the starting XI in the first place. With Wayne Rooney suspended, and off getting a hair transplant at a Harley Street specialist, Capello took the surprising decision to leave out Young as well, despite the Villa man's recent metamorphosis into a player of genuine international quality.

In the absence of Rooney, the injured Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll, who has a persistent knee complaint, Capello chose a three-man attack of Darren Bent, James Milner and Theo Walcott, a front three that was last used in the 2-1 victory over Denmark in February, three games ago.

Young had impressed in recent games against Denmark, Wales and Ghana, but England's most improved player of the past three months found himself on the bench for the visit of Switzerland.

The decision was clearly the wrong one. England looked bereft of ideas in the first 45 minutes, with Walcott and Milner peripheral figures unwilling to move from their respective flanks. Bent became increasingly isolated and when the Swiss defence pushed up to squeeze the space, England were soon resorting to hopeful long balls over the top.

Capello's selection of Walcott and Milner for the wide positions proved once again that the England manageris inherently cautious. Both players will do their share of running, but they lack the cutting edge that Young has shown in recent internationals.

Milner was full of bustling endeavour, although at times his exuberance in his direct contest with the Swiss right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner was deemed too physicalby referee Damir Skomina. Milner was presented with England's best chance of an uncertain opening when he rose at the far post to meet Scott Parker's cross but could not beat the Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

On the opposite wing Walcott is a far more delicate player, relying almost exclusively on his ability to run fast to take him past a defender. At times he found himself outmuscled by the Swiss defence, but he kept at his job, and rarely spurned the chance to run at his opposite number. Walcott's best moment was perhaps a run at the centre of Switzerland's back four, and a pass to Young, who put his attempt on goal over the crossbar.

Young came off the bench at halftime to replace Lampard, and immediately made an impact, releasing Walcott for a run on goal that was blocked by Johan Djourou. He was deployed in a nominally central role behind Bent, although he had licence to roam wherever he liked. The Swiss defenders had trouble coping with his movement and six minutes after his introduction he scored England's equaliser, a crisp finish from 18 yards after Leighton Baines had cushioned the ball with his chest.

Young, who turns 26 in July, has made quite a name for himself with his recent performances for England, and seems likely to leave Aston Villa this summer. Manchester United and Liverpool are competing for his signature, and the difference he made to England's display yesterday will only have given his agent further bargaining strength.

Young also presented England with a couple of chances to win the game, for his Villa team-mate Bent. Young slipped the ball to forward to Bent, who could only shoot at goalkeeper Benaglio's legs. Young then fired in a low shot that Benaglio could not hold, presenting Bent with an open goal from 12 yards. The former Tottenham and Sunderland striker planted the ball over the bar.

The performances of Young, and the emergence of Jack Wilshere as a midfielder of the highest class, are the two main causes of optimism for England a year on from the World Cup debacle.

England missed Rooney, and Capello will be relieved to see the Manchester United striker, new hair and all, back in the side for the next qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales in September. He will also surely not make the same mistake of ignoring Young, who was voted man of the match despite having played only half of it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine