Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe the hero as England exacted revenge on Italy following their quarter-final heart-break at the European Championship last month. A taster of what is to come from the season as the national side gear-up for for the World Cup qualifiers. But what have fans learnt 2-1 win over the Azzuri?
Persist with Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker was a supposed ‘shoe-in’ for Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2012, but was forced out of the tournament with a broken toe. The young right-back enjoyed a successful full debut campaign with Tottenham Hotspur following short loan spells with Queen’s Park Rangers and Aston Villa and almost instantly ousted Vedran Corluka in the back four.
The 22-year-old played an impressive 47 times for Spurs last year and the calls to see him leap to the front of the pecking order ahead of Glen Johnson and Micah Richards have been echoing out for much of 2012. Walker has reinforced his credentials to start in front of the duo once again during the encounter with Italy with a series of pressing runs on the right.
His link up play with Adam Johnson on the flank proved to be England’s best outlet during the first-half, with the pairing causing all kinds of problems to Federico Balzaretti and his half-time replacement Federico Peluso. His defensive capabilities and attacking intent means Hodgson must stick with the Spurs star for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Adam Johnson should start ahead of Ashley Young
Many felt Adam Johnson should’ve been included in Hodgson’s squad for the European Championship, especially with Stewart Downing his main competition on the left. The 25-year-old still mustered an impressive 38 appearances for Manchester City, despite being forced to watch much of the season from the bench.
Following an abysmal showing during the European Championship, many believed that the former Middlesbrough youngster warranted a call-up ahead of Manchester United’s Ashley Young
Johnson can play on either side of the pitch, his versatility a real asset to City manager Roberto Mancini. As it was, the wide-man managed to net six times during the Citizens title winning domestic campaign, leading to calls that he should have been on the plane to Ukraine and Poland.
Inconsistency may come into play at times, but he isn’t afraid to take players on, especially when cutting in from the right. Following an abysmal showing during the European Championship, many believed that the former Middlesbrough youngster warranted a call-up ahead of Manchester United’s Ashley Young, who failed to replicate his club form over the summer.
Tom Cleverley can fill the midfield void left by Jack Wilshere
With the news that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will be unavailable for selection to manager Arsene Wenger until October, at the earliest, fans were well aware that a new midfielder would need to be drafted into the national set-up to replicate the youngster. After a solid showing for Team GB at the Olympics, that man appears to be Tom Cleverley.
The Manchester United midfielder looked impressive in the middle of the park for the 12-time Premier League champions, before injury ruled out him for much of the season as the 23-year-old made just 15 appearances.
After a solid showing for Team GB at the Olympics, that man appears to be Tom Cleverley
Wilshere was pivotal in linking the midfield and the attack when called upon and Cleverley is likely to be called upon to do the same. With Chelsea’s Frank Lampard now 34 and Wilshere sidelined for the foreseeable future, the young United midfielder could be the man to fill the void in the centre of the pitch, especially if Hodgson continues with the 4-3-3 he set out on Wednesday night.
Jermain Defoe still has a role at international level
The pint-sized hitman may not have enjoyed the best of campaigns with Tottenham Hotspur, but Jermain Defoe proved that he still has what it takes to succeed on the international stage. A return of 17 goals for Spurs last year, despite a bit part role, showcased his capability to still succeed when given the opportunity.
A 45 minute cameo as a replacement for Andy Carroll, Defoe didn’t disappoint, despite playing without a strike partner. The 29-year-old tonight won his 49th cap for the national team and celebrated it with a goal that typifies the front-man; a smart turn and finish past Italy’s Salvatore Sirigu.
His impact from the bench will be an asset to Hodgson during the World Cup qualifiers, especially if bought in the dying embers of an encounter against a tiring defence. However, he isn’t the ideal starter, meaning the England manager will have to utilise Defoe sparingly if he is to maximise his qualities.
A return of 17 goals for Spurs last year, despite a bit part role, showcased his capability to still succeed when given the opportunity
Michael Carrick should’ve gone to the Euro’s
While Rio Ferdinand attracted the headlines following his exclusion by Hodgson, it was Michael Carrick who should’ve attracted more interest. The Manchester United midfielder enjoyed a successful campaign under Sir Alex Ferguson and his capabilities during the European Championship were evidently missed.
Granted, Carrick lost Daniele De Rossi for Italy’s opener on Wednesday night, but he looked calm and assured against the Azzuri, something England were desperately missing over the summer. With Hodgson appearing to switch from a favoured 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, his impact could be instrumental for the national team in the lead up to Brazil 2014.
A deep lying playmaker was desperately to proved the balance in the middle of the park and, as good as Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard are, they are a completely different type of midfielder to Carrick, both of whom lacking the ‘continental’ touch. An impressive outing will likely see him called up for the squad against Moldova in three weeks time as England get their qualifying campaign underway.
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