By Rob Stewart
Paul Parker has taken a pop at England midfielder Scott Parker ahead of Sunday night's Euro 2012 quarter-final showdown against Italy, describing his approach as “running around like a chicken with no head”.
The former Manchester United right-back has pinpointed Andrea Pirlo as the Azzurri's most potent threat and it is therefore vital to pressure the playmaker as much as possible, with the Tottenham man expected to be handed said responsibilities.
However, Paul Parker has dismissed much of the acclaim his namesake has accrued over the past 18 months, stating that his influence on a game is minimal.
“[Italy] have Andrea Pirlo in midfield and he is an excellent passer of the ball who controls games, so England have to work out how they will deal with him," the London native mused during an exclusive interview with Goal.com.
"Are they going to allow Scott Parker to try to thwart him because he has covered more yards than anyone, running around like a chicken with no head?
“[Parker] doesn’t really touch the ball a lot and when he does touch it he doesn’t really do a lot with it. His strength is to upset teams and get the ball and give it to people who can do something with it, and that's mainly Steven Gerrard - who is England’s best player by far because of his hard work and endeavour.
"It looks as though if anything is going to happen it will come through him."
The one major doubt over the Italian starting line-up is whether Cesare Prandelli will recall Mario Balotelli after his impressive goal-scoring cameo against Republic of Ireland, or continue with Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale up top alongside Antonio Cassano.
Parker, for his part, believes that they are two very different players but equally as dangerous.
“Mario Balotelli’s confidence will be high after his goal against Ireland so he will be in the right frame of mind for a big game like this,” he reasoned.
“He will want to prove a point and he won’t care that he is playing against some of his team-mates. And [Antonio] Di Natale is a threat because he is short, quick and strong and aggressive, so he will cause problems."
England's eagerly-awaited clash with Italy is scheduled to kick off at 20:45CET.