Wilshere and Gibbs poised to offer England fresh hope
Arsenal pair expect to be called up in Fabio Capello's revamped squad to face Hungary next week
Saturday 07 August 2010
A new phase of Fabio Capello's reign as England manager will start this evening when he announces his first squad since the debacle of the World Cup finals.
When it was confirmed Capello's job was safe, the Italian spoke of the need for some new blood in his squad, with Wednesday's friendly against Hungary at Wembley his first chance to make changes.
The pressure is on Capello to lift the mood in the squad and there is expected to be an emphasis on youth, given the players left out of Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad for their fixture the evening before.
Jack Wilshere, tipped last year as having an outside chance of making South Africa, was not included. Neither were Arsenal team-mates Kieran Gibbs or Theo Walcott. Lee Cattermole and Scott Loach are other notable absentees from Pearce's squad to face Uzbekistan in Bristol.
Walcott is among the group of players who narrowly missed selection for the World Cup and had their reputations enhanced by being distanced from England's underwhelming performances.
The Manchester City winger Adam Johnson was another, while the Bolton defender Gary Cahill suffered a blood clot to his arm at a crucial stage of last season. Tottenham's Michael Dawson was eventually the centre-half Capello turned to following an injury to Rio Ferdinand in England's first training session of the tournament.
Yet, for all the talk of new eras, there will still be a nucleus of players scarred by the experiences of their month in South Africa. Not many decisions have been made for Capello. Ferdinand is injured, so Steven Gerrard will take the captain's armband, with Jamie Carragher and Emile Heskey the only players who have made themselves unavailable for selection.
The face of the squad may change but Capello will need to leave senior players on the bench to change his starting XI. The outfield players who started the 4-1 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein are all still available.
At least Capello has a ready-made replacement for Heskey in the Fulham striker Bobby Zamora, a player willing to use his physical presence to unsettle defenders and make room for his team-mates.
Until last season, he had a similar lack of goals to Heskey. But a fine season under Roy Hodgson, before the manager's departure to Liverpool, saw him catch the eye of Capello. Had it not been for an Achilles operation being delayed to squeeze in the Europa League final, Zamora had a chance of making the World Cup.
David James' age is expected to force Capello's hand in goal. James turned 40 last weekend and will be playing his football in the Championship with Bristol City next season. Ben Foster's move to Birmingham City has assured him of regular first-team football and puts him back in the frame.
Everton defender Phil Jagielka also has a good chance of a recall after suffering a serious knee injury last season. Capello's decision to take Ledley King to the World Cup backfired dramatically as the Spurs centre-back only lasted for the first 45 minutes of the finals. King struggled to play matches in quick succession because of an ongoing knee injury, so selecting him would also probably rule him out of his club's Premier League opener at the weekend.
England squad ins and outs
*Jack Wilshere – showed maturity on loan at Bolton last season and impressed at the pre-season Emirates Cup for Arsenal.
*Kieran Gibbs – a left-back in the mould of Ashley Cole, who can also play as a winger.
*Theo Walcott – left out of the final squad for the World Cup and has a point to prove to Capello.
*Steven Gerrard – insisted he would not retire from international football after the World Cup.
*John Terry – Capello's first-choice centre-back as Rio Ferdinand will miss the start of the season through injury.
*Wayne Rooney – had a disappointing World Cup but still carries the hopes of the nation on his shoulders.
*David James – just turned 40 and will spend next season playing in the Championship with Bristol City.
*Ledley King – injury-hit World Cup and cannot play matches in quick succession because of knee problem.
*Emile Heskey – announced his retirement from international football after the World Cup.
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