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England - A Neutral's View

Wednesday 6th June 2012
So its official, England's 23 man squad has been announced for the Euro's.  The squad bound to bring glory to this nation, or maybe not.

Now I write this, not as an England fan, I could not care less about international football.  As a neutral for years I have laughed at how the press and fans have built up a clearly average side, and expected them to bring home the trophy, when it was clearly never going to happen.

Now Roy Hodgson has picked his men to go to Poland and Ukraine, possibly not with the expectation of winning on their shoulders, the pressure could be off.  But ultimately they still won't be good enough.  Mainly because Roy has picked (in my eyes) the wrong men.  England won't be winning this tournament no matter who they have in their squad, so he SHOULD be looking toward the World Cup in two years time.

Here are the 23 men that should be on that plane:

Joe Hart - One of England's only truly world class players.  Top three in Europe, probably the world, easily the first name on the team sheet.

Frazer Forster - Record for clean sheets in the SPL (alright I know it's only the SPL!) and young enough to gain a lot from the experience, and grow from it, and maybe in time if Hart gets injured, or has a drop in form England have a reasonable deputy.

Rob Green - Solely because there is no one else!

Phil Jones  - Can play anywhere across the backline, the ideal utility man.  And will be a lynchpin for England in years to come (provided he can be given a regular position by United).

Ashley Cole - The second of the two world class players, only one of the "golden generation" who warrants his place in the starting XI.

Danny Kelly – Big fan of this lad, much better full back than Glen Johnson will ever be.

Ryan Shawcross – Always overlooked.  Performs week in, week out for Stoke, time for him to prove he can do it at a higher level.

Jolean Lescott – Best English centre half by a mile this season.  Wasn't terrific after his initial move to Man City, but alongside Kompany has grown in stature (if you can try and ignore him attempting to cost them the league on the last day of the season!)

Gary Cahill – Looked just as bad as the rest as his Bolton counterparts at the start of the season, but has looked every inch the defender we all thought he was now he is at Stamford Bridge

Leighton Baines – Feel sorry for the guy, would be a shoe in for first choice, if it weren't for Ashley Cole.

Phil Jagielka – Mr. Dependable, for both club and country.

Frank Lampard - The Gerrard/Lampard debate has raged for years.  They can't play together, that much is clear.  The answer - pick Lampard as he is a MUCH better player, plays for the team, scores goals, and most importantly in two years time he will still be able to play the same way he does now, his awareness, ability to sneak into those positions, and play the simple ball will not diminish.  Whereas Gerrard will not be able to make the barnstorming runs he does (less frequently  than he used to) now.

Scott Parker – Best holding midfielder England have got.  Not flash, but effective.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - The wildcard.  If what we have seen from him when he's played for Arsenal he could be very special.  Stick him in for the experience.

Ashley Young - I'm not a huge fan, but he seems to have a knack of scoring.  Plus he's always good for trying to get a spot kick.

James Milner – I LOVE this guy, I know most don't, but I genuinely believe if we let him attack he would cause so many problems, as he did at Villa.

Aaron Lennon – Blows hot and cold, but I think you need cover for Young and the Ox, and it certainly isn't going to be Walcott!

David Beckham – That's right kids, D-Beck.  In a 23 man squad you really only need 18 players, so you can afford a gamble.  The plan would be not to play him, but to have him round, his experience (one of the few England players to have actually had a successful career).  Plus if you are 1-0 down and are lumping the ball forward, who better to play that pass, or to take any set piece you get in the final third?

Grant Holt - Yes Norwich bias may be coming into play slightly here, but the facts speak for themselves.  Second highest English scorer in the league, and defences HATE playing against him.

Daniel Sturridge - Hard done by at Chelsea at the end of the season, young, can play on the wing, or as we all think he wants, down the middle.  Downside is he does not like to pass!

Andy Carroll - Yes I would take him.  It is purely on potential.  We have all seen what he CAN do, question is can he do it regularly?  Young enough to warrant a proper chance.

Jermaine Defoe - Tends to score goals when given the chance, that's a handy trait to have as a centre forward.

Danny Welbeck - Flashes of looking very good, but again I'm not convinced.  Young enough to be worth a go, plus there isn't REALLY anyone else is there?

The most noticeable absentee from my squad you will see is Rooney.  Let me say I wouldn't take him suspended or not.  For all the good he does in a United shirt, he does NOTHING for England.  Two goals in two years, a poor World Cup, you've had your moment Wayne and that was 2004, its time for the future now, and you aren't it internationally.

Walcott out too, I could write another 1000 words on why he shouldn't get in.  Long and short is I think he is TERRIBLE, I wouldn't have had him in my Norwich side when we were playing Yeovil in League One.

So there you have it, my 23.  I would like to say for the record that had they been fit there would have been places for Walker, Wilshire, and John Ruddy.  Possibly Chris Smalling too.
Ian Murray

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