Wembley checklist: what Capello learnt last night
Thursday 04 March 2010
1. So is Theo Walcott the answer to England's right-wing problem?
Unfortunately not, on this performance. More than most wide players, he relies on confidence and has not had a long enough run in the Arsenal side since his last injury to build it up. Shaun Wright-Phillips has been even less consistent at Manchester City, though he made a better immediate impression with one darting run then an assist here. There are still other options in the most fiercely contested area of the team, including the similar Ashley Young – left out of this squad – and Aaron Lennon and the dissimilar David Beckham and James Milner.
2. Who will provide back-up to Ashley Cole at left-back?
If Cole is fully recovered from his broken ankle by June, it will hardly matter and using the versatile Joleon Lescott as cover would be a better bet, freeing up a squad place for an extra midfield player or striker. Wayne Bridge went to three summer tournaments as Cole's understudy and played a total of 15 minutes. Leighton Baines was given more of a chance than Stephen Warnock and did not make the most of it. They appear to be the two contenders but there is still all to play for.
3. Who should partner Wayne Rooney up front?
"I like to choose one big forward, one small forward," Fabio Capello said before the game. Rooney, at 5ft 10in, apparently counted as the big man at least until Peter Crouch came on at half-time. Two well-taken goals confirmed his big advantage over Emile Heskey – putting the ball in the net – though the manager could still prefer the Villa man if and when he reverts to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Jermain Defoe will be gnashing his teeth wishing for similar service and Carlton Cole still hoping for a longer chance.
4. Who'll play centre-half with Terry?
Rio Ferdinand, the nation will hope, but backs, like knees, are troublesome things; the official new England captain has played three times for his club since the end of October. Matthew Upson has sufficient experience with 19 caps and it seems unlikely that anyone else will jump ahead of him in the queue. He was unfortunate to slip over at a crucial moment for Egypt's goal. Lescott remains ahead of the injured Gary Cahill and newcomer Ryan Shawcross (both untried at this level) as the next in line.
5. Who's the number-one No 1?
When Capello said he knew the answer to this one, it was assumed he was talking about David James. Oddly, he then claimed that Joe Hart, deservedly called into the squad after a good season of Premier League football with Birmingham, was "too young". Hart is 23 next month and will have hoped to play at least part of the game last night. Capello chose to give Robert Green the full 90 minutes, which suggests that the man_ager believes in him more than many observers do. Paul Robinson could only sit in the ITV studio and Ben Foster was (presumably) a mere viewer...
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
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