Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England manager last week represented a major piece of the puzzle for fans of the Three Lions as the team continue their preparations for this summer’s European Championship in Ukraine and Poland.
Now that the identity of the man who will pick the squad has finally become clear, the attention of the fans has turned to which players will feature in Hodgson’s team when they take to the pitch to face France in their opening Euro 2012 game on June 11.
While many players seem to be assured of their place in Hodgson’s starting line-up, one position which seems less than certain is the right-back spot and, so intense is speculation, Sportingbet have opened a market on who will be given the nod against France.
The market leader is Tottenham's young right-back, Kyle Walker at 8/11 (1.73).
Walker has made just two starts for the Three Lions but he has enjoyed a fantastic first full season at White Hart Lane, culminating in being named the Professional Football Association’s Young Player of the Year a few weeks ago. Despite his relative inexperience, Walker looks a well priced 8/11 (1.73) by Sportingbet to start against France.
Should Hodgson opt for experience over youth, Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson is sure to come into contention for a starting berth and is chalked up at 5/2 (3.50) with Sportingbet to start at right-back against Laurent Blanc’s side.
Johnson, of course, played under Hodgson at Liverpool but his successful conversion to left-back under Kenny Dalglish’s stewardship might see the full-back struggle to obtain the right-back slot here.
Another interesting contender is Manchester City’s Micah Richards. Richards has 13 England caps to his name but he has been unable to hold down a regular starting berth as City have edged towards the Premier League title this season.
That may well count against him with Hodgson and Richards is considered a 9/2 (5.50) shot with Sportingbet to play at right-back against France.
Manchester United duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling complete the market but at 18/1 (19.0) and 25/1 (26.0) respectively, as the prices suggest they are unfancied.
Undoubtedly, it has been a dream season for Walker and the Spurs full-back looks a superb bet at 8/11 (1.73) to cap a fine campaign by filling the right-back slot when England face France this summer.
Kyle Walker at 8/11 (1.73) with Sportingbet
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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter