thumbnail Hello,

New Three Lions manager has yet to show which qualities he will value most in his team, which makes Wednesday's 23-man selection for Poland and Ukraine all the more interesting

ANALYSIS
By Miles Chambers

In less than one month’s time Euro 2012 will get underway and all the hype, hysteria and heartbreak that go hand-in-hand with an England finals appearance will resurface.

Roy Hodgson, thrust into the Three Lions’ spotlight after the FA announced that he would replace Fabio Capello as the permanent England boss at the start of May, names his 23-man squad for the tournament on Wednesday.

The former Inter and Liverpool manager has yet to show his hand on whether he will value experience over youth, or underrated players to big-name stars.

By the time that the competition kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw we will have a rough idea of who Hodgson’s starting XI will be thanks to two friendlies which will precede the European Championship finals.

Right now, however, the experienced coach has to deal with the decisions and dilemmas that face every international boss ahead of an international tournament.

Following up on Goal.com’s March review on contenders for a Three Lions call-up, below is a list of the ‘Definites’, ‘Probables’ and ‘Possibles’ aiming to get on the plane to Poland and Ukraine...

GOALKEEPERS (3)
Definites
Joe Hart Manchester City
Probables
Robert Green West Ham United
Possibles
Scott Carson Bursaspor
David Stockdale Fulham
John Ruddy Norwich City

A newly-crowned Premier League champion and one of the finest goalkeepers in the world at the moment, Joe Hart is guaranteed the position of England No.1 this summer.

The Manchester City man was a fringe player two years ago at World Cup 2010 but now the former first choice, Robert Green, is likely to fill that backup role. The West Ham United man may have spent this year in the Championship, but he understands major tournament pressure.

Ben Foster was excellent at loan at West Bromwich Albion under Hodgson this season, but he publicly stated this week that he has politely rejected the new England boss’ request for him to rescind his international retirement.

Norwich City's John Ruddy has had a fantastic year in the Premier League and there is clamour from many quarters for the uncapped Englishman to get his shot with the Three Lions. Scott Carson has been a familiar face in the international setup for years but, by plying his trade in Turkey, he may be off Hodgson’s radar. The third goalkeeping spot could instead go to Fulham reserve shot-stopper David Stockdale, who has shown (when Mark Schwarzer is injured) at Craven Cottage that he can cope with first-team football.

DEFENDERS (8)
Definites
Ashley Cole Chelsea
Joleon Lescott       Manchester City
Rio Ferdinand Manchester United
Probables
Gary Cahill Chelsea
Leighton Baines Everton
Glen Johnson Liverpool
Phil Jones Manchester United
Kyle Walker Tottenham
Possibles
Kieran Gibbs Arsenal
John Terry Chelsea
Phil Jagielka Everton
Micah Richards Manchester City
Danny Simpson  Newcastle United
 

England’s defence is without a doubt their most competitive area, with numerous quality players for Hodgson to choose between. The two right-back spots are arguably the most ferociously fought-over: Liverpool’s Glen Johnson has been the Three Lions' first-choice for a while but has had a poor season at Liverpool; Kyle Walker, on the other hand, has made a huge impression at White Hart Lane and makes a solid case for inclusion.

Micah Richards' dominance as a first-choice Manchester City full-back has slumped somewhat in the last two months but he remains a huge contender for the 23-man squad despite having been largely overlooked in the Capello era. Chris Smalling would have been another name to throw into the hat were he not ruled out of the tournament through injury, while Newcastle United right-back Danny Simpson would be a surprising (albeit intriguing) addition to the Three Lions set-up.

Phil Jones will likely be on board the plane to Poland and Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand is surely a dead cert for Hodgson’s squad, as is Man City defender Joleon Lescott. Ferdinand’s inclusion could mean that John Terry gets left behind due to the continuing friction between the players over allegations that the Chelsea captain racially abused his brother Anton Ferdinand last year.

However, the former England skipper - who, when stripped of the captaincy for the second time in his career, caused Capello to quit back in February - could yet be picked by the former Fulham boss because of his vast experience at the top level.

Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka could, as a result, be competing for the fourth centre-back place. Michael Dawson, who was added to the South Africa contingent two years ago when Ferdinand was injured in training before the World Cup began, remains out with an ankle injury.

The only way that Leighton Baines is going to be denied his position as cover for Ashley Cole in the left-back department is if Hodgson pulls a major surprise out the bag for choosing injury-prone Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs instead.

MIDFIELDERS (7/8)
Definites
Theo Walcott Arsenal
Steven Gerrard Liverpool
Gareth Barry Manchester City
Ashley Young Manchester United
Probables
Frank Lampard   Chelsea
James Milner Manchester City 
Possibles
Scott Parker Tottenham
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsenal
Joe Cole Lille
Stewart Downing Liverpool
Adam Johnson Manchester City
Michael Carrick Manchester United
Tom Cleverley Manchester United          
Paul Scholes Manchester United
Aaron Lennon Tottenham

England’s central midfield has gone from looking potentially world-class last summer to increasingly weakened with the Euros just around the corner.

Jack Wilshere has spent all season on the Arsenal sidelines and will play no part internationally this summer; Scott Parker is a major doubt for the journey to Poland and Ukraine with an achilles injury; and Steven Gerrard has had a heavily-inconsistent 2012 with Liverpool. However, the Anfield skipper will surely feature while Parker will be on the plane if declared fit by the end of the month.

Elsewhere in centre midfield, Gareth Barry has been ever-present in Manchester City’s title-winning side this year and is a definite for the tournament. Manchester United duo Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley have outsider’s chances of earning an England call-up, but fellow Old Trafford team-mate Paul Scholes looks like a media favourite to be in Hodgson’s 23-man squad despite having retired from national duty in 2004.

The FA revealed on Monday that Scholes’ close friend, Gary Neville, is a new addition to Hodgson’s backroom staff this summer, which might make the task of luring the midfielder back for one final major tournament a little easier for.

Frank Lampard’s 2011-12 campaign has been at times terrific but on occasion forgettable, although the Chelsea midfielder should still be among the selected players on Wednesday. The malleable James Milner is a probable pick, while City team-mate Adam Johnson and Liverpool flop Stewart Downing will be hoping that Hodgson overlooks their minutes-played and recent-form records respectively. Joe Cole has had a respectable England career but, barring a hugely-unexpected decision, the Lille loanee will not play a part for the Three Lions this summer.

Fellow wide players Theo Walcott and Ashley Young (who can both play in forward roles as well) are much more likely to be at Euro 2012 despite having both been ignored by former boss Capello for World Cup 2010. 18-year-old tyro Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be Hodgson’s wild-card pick this week, or maybe Aaron Lennon's name will crop up meaning he would play in his third major tournament.


FORWARDS (4/5)
Definites
Wayne Rooney Manchester United
Danny Welbeck Manchester United
Probables
Andy Carroll Liverpool

Possibles
Darren Bent Aston Villa
Daniel Sturridge Chelsea
Grant Holt Norwich City
Bobby Zamora QPR
Peter Crouch Stoke City
Jermain Defoe Tottenham

England’s star striker Wayne Rooney is set to miss the opening two games of Euro 2012 because of his suspension picked up in the final game of qualification, meaning that Hodgson will need to take particular care in fashioning his forward line.

The lack of top-quality forward in the Three Lions’ ranks is evident for all to see and not many attackers have staked too strong a claim for selection.

One such man, Grant Holt, has been in terrific form for Norwich City this season and has been championed by many as a genuine option for Hodgson.

He may be the second-highest English goalscorer in the Premier League (behind Rooney), but it would be a shock decision if the ex-Switzerland coach opted for an unproven international player with just one season of top-flight experience.

Danny Welbeck has had a fairly good - though not spectacular - season in the Manchester United ranks and will almost certainly be amongst the England squad that travels to Poland. Andy Carroll’s recent surge in form for Liverpool will probably be enough to win a place in Hodgson’s 23-man squad too despite an often-comical year previously. Daniel Sturridge would have been a major contender six months ago but he has slipped out of the first team at Chelsea and has to be considering an outside bet ahead of Wednesday’s squad announcement.

The final four fighting for the last couple of seats on the plane are three ex-Tottenham strikers (Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Bobby Zamora) and one current one (Jermain Defoe). Crouch has put in a few solid shifts at Stoke City this campaign but his inclusion is unlikely, despite a good international goals-to-games ratio. Zamora’s form has plummeted since moving to QPR in January while Defoe has rarely shown enough in his cameo appearances for Spurs to prove that he deserves to feature.

Bent, meanwhile, would be a guaranteed name on the team sheet for England’s opening match of the Euros with France if he were not still a big injury doubt. The Aston Villa attacker might not be worth the risk for Hodgson considering that he has not played a game of competitive football since February.

Related

From the web