Andy Cole: Crouch must be on the plane to South Africa – and I'd take King too

Forward thinking

Peter Crouch capped a fantastic season for Tottenham on Wednesday with the goal that takes Spurs into the Champions League for the first time. We can assume Crouch is a certainty for Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup, a subject to which we'll return shortly.

First, though, congratulations to Spurs; they deserved to win on the night. They created more chances. A final score of 2-0 would not have flattered them. Spurs have earned their place at Europe's top table. City fell short.

They won't fall short for much longer. Even as a diehard Manchester United supporter, I freely acknowledge City, with their Middle Eastern resources, will finish inside the top four more often than not from now on.

That might not be a bad thing. United will remain a "big four" club, obviously, and Chelsea too as long as Roman Abramovich bankrolls them. City will be there, which in my view means Arsenal and Liverpool will be vying to complete the top-four line-up next season, while Spurs and Aston Villa will also be pushing.

What a turn-up that clubs as big as Arsenal and Liverpool are scrapping to stay in the top four, even this season. Depending on results this weekend, Arsenal could finish as low as fourth when even a few weeks ago many people (me included), considered their run-in the simplest of the big teams, and thought they'd push for the title.

What a topsy-turvy season, but the reality is healthy future competition for top-four placings, which can only be good. As for this season's title, I can't go back on what I wrote last week: the Liverpool-Chelsea settled it, effectively. If Chelsea don't win it now, then... well let's just say I agree with my dad's view of sportsmen (cricketers mainly) who don't take golden opportunities. I remember as a boy, when Dad watched West Indies, he'd say: "If this lot lose it now, they deserve to be shot!" (Obviously as a United fan, I'll be supporting Wigan on Sunday, however forlornly).

Huge credit is due to Harry Redknapp for what he's done at Spurs, perhaps especially in acknowledging errors and sorting them out. Quite early on, it seemed Harry really didn't wanted to keep Heurelho Gomes, but he did keep him, and it transpires that those early wobbles were adjustment to England after years at PSV. The Brazilian 'keeper has turned out to be very important, not least on Wednesday.

Then there's Gareth Bale, another player who not so long ago appeared to be out of favour with Harry. Now Bale is a contender for the best left-sided footballer in Britain. If he were English, he'd be in Capello's squad without question.

I wouldn't dream of telling Capello who he should select, and I don't envy him some key decisions. But an early name on my list would be Ledley King. His problems with injury are well-known, as are the limitations on his training, but he is a magnificent footballer.

He's comfortable on the ball, he's got pace that's rare in a defender. You only had to look at what a great job he did against City on Wednesday to see his value. So I'd have him in.

There's been talk about Rio Ferdinand's fitness. Rio is a mate of mine and I was chatting to him the other day and he was telling me how excited he is about playing at the World Cup. Of course he doesn't know yet for sure whether Capello will pick him, but he's certainly raring to go, and doesn't believe his groin will be an issue.

Elsewhere in defence, John Terry must be in the squad, while Ashley Cole is the stand-out (only) option at left-back. Gary Neville has been rolling back the years at United with a shot at right-back in mind. I'd take him.

Three goalkeepers will go and I'd think the most likely and deserving are David James, Robert Green and Joe Hart. Hart has had a brilliant season and deserves his opportunity. Ben Foster has an outside chance.

Stevie Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and James Milner are certainties in midfield: I'd endorse them all. If you're taking four strikers then it's Wayne Rooney, Crouch, Emile Heskey and Jermain Defoe (Darren Bent if it's five). Bent has done everything possible at an unfashionable club to put himself into contention.

The fee for Andy Cole's column is donated to Alder Hey hospital and sickle cell anaemia research. He works on charitable projects with the sport and media team at law firm Thomas Eggar.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game