FORMER ENGLAND CAPTAIN
Luxembourg could be the ideal game for Alan to knock in two or three goals, which would set up England nicely for the game against Poland and answer any questions about himself. That could be just what he needs, although I'm sure there are no doubts in his own mind. When he's with England, he won't be thinking about what's going on at Newcastle and I don't think events there will either motivate him or work against him. He's not that sort of character. Anyway, every player who steps out in an England shirt is motivated.
Although he hasn't scored in open play for some time now, his record at international level is impressive. He will be feeling a little down after being dropped for the first time since he established himself, but I think that the team-England environment will give him a lift. Shearer strives on service, which is something, with the likes of Beckham in the team, that he is more likely to get at national level. He is a fighter and, as captain of his country, he will relish the opportunity to go out and prove his detractors wrong.
NEWCASTLE FORWARD 1937-46
Alan Shearer is still the best centre forward in England. He has all the attributes: positional sense, strength on the ball and shooting power. Most importantly though, and despite his misfortune with injuries, he has great stamina. He doesn't just play through the middle; he also goes out wide and creates space for others. I realise that the knocks he has taken have hindered him a bit, and that when a striker reaches 28 or 29 years of age he doesn't get any quicker. But I would still start with Shearer up front.
He is a yard off what he used to be, and seems to be spending most of his time sulking these days. I think that it is more about the passage of his own career rather than what Ruud Gullit is doing. He looks like a very angry young fella as he runs around the pitch. He's not the player he was but, in the absence of Michael Owen, we simply haven't got a choice of top-class footballers. In two games that England have to win, my guess is that they should start with Shearer and Sheringham because they have done it all together before.
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He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself. He looks morose and miserable. Long gone are those happy times of Euro 96. There are serious questions to be asked of his temperament and what he really wants. He almost seems to be old before his time; both mentally and physically. I think he's becoming the Nick Faldo of football. He may not be as self- obsessed as Faldo but he does appear to be carrying the world on his shoulders. That said, I still wouldn't leave him out because there are no viable alternatives.
There's no question in my mind that Alan should lead England against Luxembourg and Poland. He might have struggled for Newcastle last season on occasions, but he's had absolutely no service. It's quite simple. When he gets the service, he scores. In his last England game, against Bulgaria, he scored the only goal and I see no reason why he won't continue that against Luxembourg and the Poles. If anything, events at Newcastle will galvanise him. He will always respond to Kevin.