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Goal.com breaks down the squads the leading contenders for next year's tournament are likely to take to Poland and Ukraine. In this feature, we look at Fabio Capello's side

ANALYSIS
By Nick Price

Euro 2012 may still be seven months away, but, with group qualification over and both the play-offs and the draw for the finals to be completed in the next few weeks, the key preparations for Poland-Ukraine are well underway.

Qualified nations only have a handful of friendlies remaining before the competition kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw, and each coach will already know the majority of the squad he wishes to take.

Goal.com thus breaks down how Euro 2012's top nations - England, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain - are likely to go about selecting their 23-player rosters.

We move through each positional department - goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers - and divide the candidates into 'Definites', 'Probables' and 'Possibles'. Definites are those who are pillars of the team, indispensable and irreplaceable stars who will only miss out on the finals in the most extraordinary of circumstances such as serious injury. For example, Xavi of Spain or Gianluigi Buffon of Italy. Probables are those who are likely to go, but are not so indispensable that they are immune to being cut. Possibles are all the players who are fighting for the last places in the squad that are yet to be determined. Underneath these listed candidates, we then explain in detail the reason for our choices.

Below is a full rundown of how England’s 23 places could be taken.

GOALKEEPERS (3)
Definites
Joe Hart
Manchester City
Probables
Scot Carson
Bursaspor
Possibles
Rob Green
West Ham
Ben Foster
West Brom (on loan from Birmingham)
David Stockdale
Ipswich (on loan from Fulham)

For the first time since the 2002 World Cup, England head into an international tournament with an undisputed first-choice, and possibly world-class, goalkeeper. With quick reflexes, sound positioning, and the aerial presence of a Zeppelin, Joe Hart looks set to be England No.1 for a long time to come, and Capello's only concern lies with what two other keepers to bring with him as backup to Poland and Ukraine.

Scott Carson now plies his trade in Turkey with Bursaspor, but he has not been forgotten by the England set-up, earning a call-up for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden. Fulham's impressive David Stockdale, now on loan at Ipswich, and West Ham's Robert Green are also likely to be considered, while Ben Foster, having replaced Carson at West Brom, is arguably the second best English goalkeeper in the Premier League, but he is on an indefinite break from international football.

DEFENDERS (8)
Definites
Ashley Cole
Chelsea
John Terry
Chelsea
Probables
Gary Cahill
Bolton
Phil Jagielka
Everton
Glen Johnson
Liverpool
Joleon Lescott
Manchester City
Possibles
Leighton Baines
Everton
Michael Dawson
Tottenham
Rio Ferdinand
Manchester United
Kieran Gibbs
Arsenal
Phil Jones
Manchester United
Ledley King
Tottenham
Micah Richards
Manchester City
Chris Smalling
Manchester United
Kyle Walker
Tottenham
Stephen Warnock
Aston Villa

John Terry may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the Chelsea skipper is clearly a favourite of Capello's, and only a guilty verdict in the FA and Met Police's investigations into the alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand would force the Italian to omit the captain from his squad.

Finding a partner for Terry will be difficult. Rio Ferdinand has faded fast, and his creaking legs and a seemingly broken relationship with the skipper may rule the Manchester United man out altogether.

On Saturday, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka both staked a claim for a spot in the squad, if not the starting XI, by forming a superb, combative combination against Spain. However, Capello preferred to use Gary Cahill in the final qualifying games, which yielded successful results and promising defensive displays. If he maintains his form, the Bolton centre-back is highly likely to be included and could well wind up as the ball-playing yin to Terry's brutish no-nonsense yang.

Were it not for Ledley King's brittle knees, the Tottenham man would almost certainly be in the squad, though there remains an outside chance that he may feature, along with club mate Michael Dawson. Youngsters Phil Jones and Chris Smalling could push for a spot owing to their versatility and energy, but it is doubtful that both the Old Trafford duo will find themselves in the final 23.

At full-back, Ashley Cole is guaranteed a place in the team. Few left-backs in the world can match the Chelsea man, who could be covered by one of Leighton Baines, Stephen Warnock or Kieran Gibbs, although there remains the possibility that Capello will not opt to bring a specialist player in reserve, instead leaning on Lescott's experience of playing in the role for Everton.

The opposite flank is a different issue. Glen Johnson has been favoured for the last couple of seasons by Capello, but Micah Richards has been the better player over the last 12 months. However, the Manchester City man appears not to have the trust of the veteran manager, who opted not to include him in his most recent squad, with Tottenham prospect Kyle Walker instead given the nod to share defensive duties with the Liverpool man. The right-back slot could also be covered by Smalling, who played there in the absence of Johnson against Wales and Montenegro, or even Jones, although a more natural wideman would likely be preferred if there were no injury concerns.

MIDFIELDERS (6-7)
Definites
Frank Lampard
Chelsea
Scott Parker
Tottenham
Probables
Gareth Barry
Manchester City
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool
James Milner
Manchester City
Jack Wilshere
Arsenal
Possibles
Tom Cleverley
Manchester United
Stewart Downing
Liverpool
Jordan Henderson
Liverpool
Adam Johnson
Manchester City
Aaron Lennon
Tottenham
Jack Rodwell
Everton

Capello has opted for functional players in the middle of the park recently, with a three-man set-up preferred. Scott Parker, after several auspicious displays in qualifying, cemented his place in the team with a proficient performance against Spain. He will likely be joined by Frank Lampard, who has reacted with typical tenacity to tabloid tittle-tattle that his days at the top were numbered after a below-par start to the season. While not as good as he once was, his economical use of the ball will come in handy against stubborn opposition, and he should have enough in the tank to play in all of England's group games next summer.

Much less can be said of Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard, who have both been beset with serious injuries over the past eight months. The former – the future for the Three Lions – has yet to kick a ball this season and is not pencilled in to return for Arsenal until 2012, which will concern Capello as much as it will Gooners who have grown accustomed to seeing players rushed back to fitness before predictably breaking down. Meanwhile, the Liverpool captain had no pre-season owing to groin problems picked up in March. He returned to Premier League action in October but has since sustained another knock, and has not played for his country since the friendly defeat to France in 2010. However, if both return to full fitness, it is inconceivable that they will be left at home.

In Gerrard and Wilshere's absence, James Milner has been handed a starting role either out wide or tucked in the middle of a triumvirate. The Manchester City man may lack the finesse of his more preeminent peers, but his dynamism, versatility and professionalism make him near undroppable, while Gareth Barry offers similar steadfast qualities. Under-21 staples Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson and Jack Rodwell still have time to prove that they can cut it in the centre, but it would take a fine finish to the season, and possibly injuries to more established players, for any of them to make the cut come May.

Jones could also be brought into the squad as a midfielder. The Manchester United man spent much of last season at Blackburn in a holding role and played in both the recent England friendlies between defence and attack, suggesting Capello could have a premium utility player at his disposal.

Out wide, Stewart Downing continues to blow hot and cold for club and country. The Liverpool man was excellent against Sweden, but abysmal as a substitute in the win over Spain, while for Kenny Dalglish's side, one week he looks like the solution, the next he becomes the problem. Aaron Lennon has not been called up by Capello since the World Cup and Shaun Wright-Phillips appears to have fallen out of contention too, with the manager often opting for a three-pronged attack comprising wingers-cum-forwards rather than old-fashioned touchline-hugging wide men.

FORWARDS (5-6)
Definites
None

Probables
Darren Bent
Aston Villa
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Theo Walcott
Arsenal
Ashley Young
Manchester United
Possibles
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Aston Villa
Andy Carroll
Liverpool
Jermain Defoe
Tottenham
Daniel Sturridge
Chelsea
Danny Welbeck
Manchester United
Bobby Zamora Fulham

Capello's biggest headache. Wayne Rooney would be an absolute certainty, even wildly off form, to make it into a tournament team given that he is England's finest attacking player by a considerable distance, but his sending off for a cranky kick on Miodrag Dzudovic in Montenegro saw him hit with a three-match ban.

Some have suggested that the Manchester United man be left at home to stew over his own idiocy, allowing England to cultivate a crop of attacking players that won't be ripped apart should they progress from the knockout stages. However, unless Capello has a significant change of heart, he will probably take the combustible forward to light a spark later in the competition.

Regardless, England will need an out-and-out striker for at least three games. Darren Bent is often wrongly viewed as nothing more than a speed merchant reliant on a quick ball over the top, something he is unlikely to be able to thrive on at the highest level, but he is more than that. While not a nuisance maker ala Michael Owen, nor a conjurer of chances out of nothing like Rooney, he is an adept forward capable of giving a decent defence a tough time and he has been useful for the Three Lions this year.

Elsewhere, Ashley Young offers pace, trickery and delivery, not to mention the adaptability of a Swiss army knife, and he ought to be given his first chance to prove his worth in an international tournament. Similarly, Theo Walcott, having been left out of the squad for South Africa, has found his feet and is beginning to realise the potential that saw Sven Goran-Eriksson hand him a shock call-up to the 2006 World Cup squad as a teenager. The Arsenal man still struggles to perform consistently at a high level, but when he does, he causes left-backs nightmares.

There are still a host of players pushing for a spot as a striker or a flying winger. Andy Carroll and Bobby Zamora could all play the lone striker role, though none have convinced thus far for their clubs this season, with only the latter making Capello's squad for the recent friendlies, while Jermain Defoe has struggled to hold down a place for Tottenham and would need a seriously purple stretch of games to find himself in the reckoning.

Upstarts Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck have both raised their game significantly this season and have been duly rewarded with full senior international caps, with the former accustomed to playing in a front three for Chelsea and the latter proving that he can make an impact in the big games for Manchester United, and neither can be ruled out if they play regularly for their clubs in the second half of the season.

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