Back in November a few members of the Pubcast team predicted their starting XIs for England’s first game at the Euros. Here’s a little reminder of who we picked…
Mike: Hart; Smalling, Cole, Terry, Jones; Wilshere, Parker; Milner, Gerrard, Young; Welbeck
Si: Hart; Richards, Jagielka, Jones; Parker, Wilshere, Gerrard; Walcott, Bent, Young
Sean: Hart; Richards, Cole, Lescott, Jagielka; Walcott, Parker, Wilshere, Milner; Young; Bent
It makes for a interesting read now. Only Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere, Scott Parker and Ashley Young featured in every XI (I knew I should have gone for Scott Carson…), but my how things have changed in the last 5 months.
John Terry being stripped of the captaincy was followed by Fabio Capello resigning and Stuart Pearce stepping into the breach. By the time May comes round we may have Psycho in charge, we may have ‘Arry, we may have someone else completely (I’m sticking a fiver on a Peter Reid/Bryan Robson dream team). Internal politics aside, Darren Bent is presumably going to miss out thanks to injury and Jack Wilshere is yet to play a minute of competitive football this season.
So…I’m going to take another crack at guessing who the team will be when we step out against France, starting with the goalkeeper…
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Joe Hart hasn’t looked the assured, top class goalkeeper we know and (for England at least) love in recent weeks. A few flaps against Holland, a mistake against Sporting, giving away (and to be fair subsequently saving) a penalty against Swansea. However, it would probably take him to lose the use of both arms and one leg before someone else had a realistic chance of taking his place in Polkeraine (and even then I’d still play him over Scott Carson).
Behind him it’s more interesting. To be fair to Scott Carson he’s had a good season in Turkey, with Bursaspor 7th in the league but holders of the 2nd best defensive record. But is the Turkish league really that high a standard, especially bearing in mind Turkey didn’t manage to qualify for the tournament. My suggested back up keepers we Rob Green, who’s done a decent job in the Championship for West Ham, and John Ruddy from Norwich. Rob Green has had his problems in the past at international level and hasn’t played top flight football for a year while Ruddy has been in goal for the worst defence outside of the bottom five – not exactly filling you with confidence should the worst happen to Joe Hart is it?
The alternatives are few and far between. Fraser Forster, on loan at Celtic from Newcastle, has had a fine season in the SPL and might be worth a look. Paul Robinson is apparently interested in leaving international exile now Capello has left and Ben Foster might consider a call as well but do we really want someone who takes his ball and goes home when they’re not selected? David Stockdale still hasn’t managed to get ahead of octogenarian goalkeeping machine Mark Schwarzer at Fulham and Frank Fielding of Derby has no experience of top class football. Of our under 21 goalkeepers, Jason Steele of Middlesbrough plays regularly at club level but only has one cap for the youth side and Ben Amos is only third choice at Manchester United.
All in all, a sorry bunch. I’m happy for Man City to have plenty of bad luck between now and the end of the season, I just hope it isn’t in the goalkeeping department.
My selection: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Scott Carson