With the season practically over barring the Champions League Final, it’s time to turn our attention to the small matter of Euro 2012! Yes it’s that time again, where we dare to dream of international glory but we should keep our optimism in check. Today, Hodgson announced the squad he plans to take to the Euros and there were a few surprises, here are the lucky 23:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich)
Defenders: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United)
Midfielders: Ashley Young (Man United), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), James Milner (Man City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Hart was an obvious pick and has been in great form all season, however, with Green and Ruddy as backups, it’s best to hope that Hart doesn’t suffer any freak injury. In defence, the biggest surprise was the omission of Ferdinand, who must have been devastated to miss out on the tournament. Hodgson has claimed it was for footballing reasons; stating his lack of international football since the last World Cup and his form over the last couple of months. Looking at our defence, we can see errors occurring over the course of the tournament and we need to look to someone like Scotty Parker to help out where necessary.
In midfield, the biggest shock is the inclusion of Oxlade-Chamberlain. He’s young but clearly very talented and is surely set for a very bright future. Chances are he may have to do with a super sub role, which we believe may work in certain games. He’s comfortable on the ball, can dribble past players with his pace and during the second half of the season, has shown he has the ability to pick out long-distance passes.
Up front may be our biggest worry; Rooney is out for the first two games which gives Hodgson a real test. He has the option to go with 2 up top but we think it’ll be more likely that England will line up with 5 in midfield. This means that either Welbeck or Carroll will be given the job of playing the lone role up top, with Defoe likely to be used as an impact sub. Welbeck has had a strong season where he has featured on a regular basis but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to take this confidence into the international arena. Carroll has finished the season well but is far from producing the performances that encouraged Liverpool to invest £35m in him.
International football is always tricky; bringing together a group of 23 players and expecting them to gel after a few weeks of training is very optimistic. Even more so, given that the tournament comes at the end of a physically and mentally draining season. Having a look at the overall squad, there are players there who can produce that little bit of magic when they’re confident and in form, and knowing this, as England fans we must dare to dream but not expect.