As John Terry’s FA hearing into the allegations that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand last year begins, the result suddenly feels a little irrelevant. Much of the talk in the build up to the inquiry was based around whether Terry’s international career would be forced to end as a result of the hearing. However on the Evening before the investigation Terry announced his retirement from International football by releasing a statement stating that he felt the FA had made his position in the England team ‘Untenable’. Whilst there is no doubt the man who has enjoyed a colourful career on and off the pitch thus far will be a huge loss to the England defence, there are also several men that Hodgson may well call upon to fill the void left at the back by Terry. Lescott looks to be a certainty so Hodgson’s dilemma comes in finding a partner for him.
The first of those is the man many consider to be the ready made replacement for Terry not just at his club Chelsea, but also within the National set up. Gary Cahill has not been Hodgson’s preferred option in recent Internationals. For the most recent World Cup Qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley, England’s manager chose to couple Terry’s normal partner for England Jolean Lescott with Everton’s Phil Jagielka after Terry was ruled out with injury. However Cahill has made giant strides since his £7 million transfer from Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea in January this year. In six months he had become an FA Cup and Champions League winner as well as securing a place in England’s Euro 2012 squad, only to be denied by injury in the final warm up match against Belgium after sustaining a broken Jaw. He shows improvements every time he steps on the field and in my opinion has the leadership and game reading abilities that Terry possessed. These Attributes make him the preferred choice to grab an England starting spot.
Another man in the frame for the position is one I mentioned earlier in the shape of Phil Jagielka. With just 14 International caps to his name he is still considered to be learning his trade at this level, although with Cahill having only made ten the same argument could certainly be directed at the Chelsea man. What Jagielka lacks that Cahill perhaps possesses is experience at the highest club level. As a central defender there isn’t much better achievement in this era than keeping a clean sheet against European Power houses Barcelona, Cahill achieved that. Jagielka has European experience in the shape of a couple of Europa League campaigns for Everton but the difference in quality is immense and its this factor that may lead Hodgson to overlook him when selecting Terry’s permanent Replacement.
One player however, Rio Ferdinand, has all the experience and quality at European and International level to fill that missing gap and Terry’s permanent absence from the England set up may prove enough for Roy Hodgson to recall him to his squad after overlooking him for the Euro’s. That time Ferdinand’s omission was due to ‘Footballing Reasons’ not the widely reported saga between Rio’s brother Anton and Terry over allegations of Racism that have now seen Terry quit the international stage. The absence of the Chelsea man means Ferdinand should have no problem returning to England, unless he is also unhappy with Ashley Cole over his part in the Racism court case. His quality is obvious and if that is coupled with luck with the injuries that have stalled his career in recent years then the 33 year old may have a few years left in him and he should not be overlooked.
Other names such as Phil Jones and perhaps Chris Smalling also spring to mind as potential replacements but Hodgson is more likely to seek a more experienced player to partner his likely first choice Centre back Jolean Lescott for England’s foreseeable future. The main contenders are Cahill, Jagielka and perhaps even a dramatic return for Rio Ferdinand to the national team.
England’s next fixture is on the 12th of October against San Marino. I doubt it will be the game where we get the definitive answer; it should be a fixture where England can afford to experiment hugely and should still come away with a landslide victory. Poland away four days later is where we are most likely to see the first choice pair playing together. For Hodgson there will no rush, he needs to get this decision right and I have no doubt he will wait until the last minute to finally make it.
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