Capello passes up opportunity for experimentation against Egypt

The England manager’s squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Egypt, the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, contains only one uncapped player. A surprise, says

ariesmale1978 via Flickr Creative Commons

ariesmale1978 via Flickr Creative Commons

England’s upcoming home friendly with 2010 Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt on Wednesday looks on paper to be a great opportunity to try new ideas and test fringe players – yet, the squad just announced includes only one player being called up for the first time.

Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, a player who has been linked with Liverpool, received the call from Fabio Capello, despite his involvement in the horrific injury sustained by young Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey this afternoon. He is reported to have left the Britannia Stadium in tears after his 50-50 challenge resulted in the Welsh central midfielder’s foot hanging off his leg. Highly rated as Shawcross is, this incident should not detract from his displays this season, which saw Stoke go unbeaten this year until the 1-3 defeat at the hands of the Gunners. It is to be hoped that he is not too shaken to make the most of the opportunity handed to him by the England manager, though the best he can hope for is a substitute appearance.

Elsewhere in defence, Captain Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole miss out through injury, whilst Manchester City left-back Wayne Bridge has declared himself unavailable for off-the-pitch reasons. Squad player Gary Cahill is recovering from a blood clot problem and Everton’s Phil Jagielka is just returning from a serious knee injury. This leaves Joleon Lescott, West Ham’s Matthew Upson and former captain John Terry competing with Shawcross for the two centre-back berths. Wes Brown of Manchester United is the only right back in the squad, with either Everton’s Leighton Baines or Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock having to step into Cole’s boots.

In goal, Ben Foster is dropped completely from the squad and troubled Portsmouth’s David James is recalled. He is joined by Robert Green and Birmingham City’s Joe Hart (on loan from Man City), who after solid displays for the Blues should really be involved at some stage.

As ever England are spoilt for choice with options on the right side of midfield. David Beckham and Theo Walcott return and find themselves competing with the versatile James Milner and Shaun Wright-Phillips. I am not entirely convinced SWP would be in the squad were Aaron Lennon of Tottenham Hotspur fit. Milner might also be deployed on the left. On the other side Stewart Downing is named for the first time since recovering from the foot injury which saw him miss six months last year, with Villa team mate Ashley Young dropped and there still being no place for Chelsea’s Joe Cole.

In the middle of the park, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard return, but the Liverpool skipper may start from the left-hand side as it has been a favourite tactic of Capello’s. They are joined by the less-attacking duo of Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick. Spurs pair Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone miss out, which is particularly hard on the latter as I felt his debut substitute performance against Brazil last time out was solid.

Up front, Sunderland’s Darren Bent and Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor are not one of the five strikers selected. Neither is the in-form Fulham frontman Bobby Zamora, whom I feel should really have been selected even if he wasn’t going to feature. Wayne Rooney should be partnered in attack by Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch or Carlton Cole. Jermain Defoe completes the England strike force.

As for the opposition, the champions of Africa welcome back Mohamed Aboutrika after injury. Former Sheffield United player Ahmed Fathy will play in the back five. Ex-Spurs and Derby midfielder Hossam Ghaly should join national team captain Ahmed Hassan and Aboutrika in the midfield three. Up front you would expect two from Hull City striker Amr Zaki, Emad Motaeb and Borussia Dortmund’s Mohamed Zidan to play, though Geddo, the African Cup of Nations top scorer earlier this year, may have done enough to be promoted from an impact sub.

England XI I would select to start vs. Egypt:
Hart, Brown, Terry, Upson, Baines, Milner, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Rooney, Carlton Cole

England XI I think will start:
Hart, Brown, Terry, Upson, Baines, Walcott, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Rooney, Heskey

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8 comments

  1. I don’t think he wanted to take any chances, Egypt is a VERY strong team, I have watched them play and win against Italy, and they scared the hell out of Brazil. It should be a great match looking forward to watching it from the USA.

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  2. Losing to Egypt won’t matter though, will it, in the greater scheme of things?! It could actually help the squad – might lift some of the ridiculously high expectations and pressure that gets laid on England every time a major tournament comes round!

    Also to suggest that some of the younger inexperienced players are incapable of seeing off Egypt is to do them a disservice – we’re talking about a side that didn’t qualify for the World Cup and whose squad predominantly play in their domestic league. English players in the Premiership come up against just as much, if not more, quality every week.

    Me personally, I’d have loved to see Capello throw a curveball and select a mostly inexperienced squad, just to put a little bit of doubt into the minds of anyone who might’ve thought their trip to South Africa was a shoe-in. Shawcross’ call-up is a positive step in this direction. Look at John Terry, for instance… I wouldn’t play him at the moment! He has been awful for a few weeks now – it almost seems ludicrous that Bridge is the one missing out while we’re stuck with a psychologically-hamstrung Terry! Capello should send a message – if you can’t get your head together you cannot and will not play. This is why giving the captaincy to Rio was in my opinion ever so slightly misguided – it sends out the message that both Rio and Terry are first-choices and will line-up against USA in June, despite the fact that their form has been so patchy this season.

    Others I would have liked to see selected: Adam Johnson (pacy left-footed winger who runs at people – would give us another option aside from Downing), Bobby Zamora (give the lad a chance based on his form, he’s certainly a better option than Heskey!), Huddlestone, Agbonlahor. That’s just a few names off of the top of my head.

    For me, Joe Hart has to start – he has been the most consistent and high-performing England keeper throughout this season, and has earnt a proper chance to stake a claim as well as prove he can handle the pressure (a 2nd-half appearance against Trinidad & Tobago hardly gave him that). It’s a bit silly that David James is in the squad – we’re not going to see anything new from him at his age, we know he’s been there and done that, so why take him again?! If he’s deemed to be one of the best 3 keepers to take to SA then fine, but in the meantime why don’t we try someone else?!

    The team I would select (from Capello’s squad) to start is:

    Hart, Brown, Shawcross, Lescott, Baines, Walcott, Carrick, Lampard, Milner, Rooney, Crouch.

    In the second half I would like to see how Carlton Cole and Defoe would play together up front, and would play Downing on the left, switch Milner to the right for 20 mins (after which to be replaced by Beckham or SWP). I’d also like to see how Barry and Gerrard would get on in the centre and give Warnock a go at LB.

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  3. 28 Feb ’10 at 2:34 pm

    Chorley Barman

    I’d like to see the following team start:

    Hart, Brown, Shawcross, Upson, Baines, Milner, Carrick, Lampard, Downing, Rooney, Cole

    Disappointed there’s no place for Bobby Zamora, Adam Johnson and only one right back although i really can’t think of any options (Luke Young is the only other option but he announced his international retirement last year). I suppose Capello is thinking Upson or Milner could fill in RB if Wes Brown were to pick up a knock and it is only a friendly afterall.

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  4. I think it will be an entertaining game if anything. Like someone said, I’ve seen Egypt beat Italy twice in the past year, I’ve seen them hold Brazil off 3-3 until the last minute of overtime, and they’ve destroyed all 4 African teams that qualified for the World Cup during the African Cup. But England is at home and is ranked higher (9 vs 10, but still). And England has the international success aura around them, whereas Egypt has had trouble getting out of Africa really, despite great success there. I am personally rooting for Egypt, but I see England winning. We’ll see.

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  5. Yes losing is not a problem but you don’t want to be humilated. England have a reputation to keep and Egypt are by no means a joke, they rank 10th on the Fifa ranking behind England with one place. Playing with youngsters would lead to humilation, its already a tough match as it is with the first 11. You would have to have watched the confederations cup, and the African Nations Cup to judge this team. In the Con they beat world champions Italy, and were tied 3-3 with Brazil until the last minutes till Webb gave Brazil a penalty, after pointing to the corner kick, when he saw the replay in the Stadium screen. In the Afcup, they won it for the 3rd successive time, unprecedented in any National Cup/league, winning every game in the Af-cup, and extended their unbeaten record on this level to 19 games. This is against African teams packed with top club talent from the Premiership, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, and the Italian Serie A. As for not qualifiying for the world cup, they tied on points and goals at the top of their group and lost in a 1 – 0 playoff agst Algeria in war-like conditions, before thrashing them 4 -0 in the Afcon.
    I wld think thrice before experimenting with a team of this quality, their league is doesn’t compare with the Premiership, but neither does Brazil’s, Italy’s’s or Germany’s for that matter, if you know what I mean.

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  6. Bobby Zamora is shit

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  7. Maestro & SoccerFan – you seem to be labouring under the impression that I haven’t seen Egypt play. I have, I watched them play in both the Confed Cup & African Cup of Nations. Undoubtedly a well-organised side with some dangerous players. But don’t give me that ”10th-best team in the world” rubbish – everyone knows those stats are skewed, not to mention fluctuate incoherently because of the varying timings of the continental tournaments. I am sure that Egypt were not the only African side who climbed several places after the African Cup of Nations, largely because many other sides weren’t playing. I’m not sure I agree that England are the 9th-best team either.

    And I didn’t advocate purely playing youngsters – I meant players with little international experience, many of which, yes, will be young. But if you want to shoot down the future of English football before it’s even been given a chance to kick a ball, then go ahead. I’d rather they were given a chance to show what they can do against a decent but not world-beating team, regardless of the result. Many of the current England squad could be playing in their last world-cup in June, so I think it’s time that we started to look at the emerging talent that will make up the core of the next squad.

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  8. England played a hell of a game. But they need to play better when the world cup begins.

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