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Capello calls up Carroll and Bothroyd, but raises more questions than answers

All the speculation in the build up to the announcement of the England squad to face France next week had been centred around the potential inclusion of strikers Andy Carroll of Newcastle United and Jay Bothroyd of Championship outfit Cardiff City. Carroll had been widely tipped to receive a call up after missing out on the dour draw against Montenegro last month, and it seems he will now get his chance after Capello elected to include the twenty-one-year-old, despite his recent problems off the field. Perhaps more surprisingly, Bothroyd too has made the squad.

With England short on attacking options in the continuing absence of Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, Bothroyd may well see some action against the French at Wembley on Wednesday. If he does he will become the first player from the Championship to represent England since David Nugent’s appearance against Andorra in Barcelona in March of 2007. That Nugent scored on that occasion and has been consistently overlooked ever since is unlikely to convince Bothroyd of his long term international prospects, regardless of how well he may perform.

Carroll has cast aside recent problems off the pitch to force his way into Capello’s squad

Sunderland’s young midfielder Jordan Henderson is also included for the first time, after having impressed frequently for the Wearsiders since breaking into their side last season. Manchester City defender Micah Richards has finally been selected too, having inexplicably failed to feature under Capello despite regularly impressing for his club and appearing to be on the verge of a hugely successful England career under previous coach Steve McClaren.

There are, as always, some glaring omissions from Capello’s squad however. Stewart Downing’s Premier League goals and consistently dazzling performances this season, including against Manchester United in front of Capello yesterday lunchtime, have not been enough to warrant a place. Aston Villa team mate Marc Albrighton may also feel aggrieved to have not forced his way into the team following an electrifying start to the season, and Matt Jarvis too had made a strong case for a call up. Bolton’s Kevin Davies must be thoroughly confused, having been solid on his debut in the uninspiring draw with Montenegro, and having added two goals to his league haul since then, he now finds himself excluded. Peter Crouch however keeps his place, despite his paltry return of goals this season in a Tottenham side overflowing with attacking talent.

Bolton’s Kevin Davies loses his place despite impressing against Montenegro last month

Equally strange is the inclusion of Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, who is yet to start this season in the Premier League. Blackburn Rovers’ Phil Jones, having been virtually an ever present for his club this season with a series of impressive displays, was surely the more logical, though the less fashionable, option. Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are the obvious nods to England’s future, but after promising to look to the nations youth after a disastrous summer Capello seems to be approaching the issue in an incredibly inconsistent way.

Even more pertinent than player selection is Capello’s tactical approach to an International friendly that offers the perfect opportunity for experimentation. Capello’s stubborn refusal to switch from his preferred 4-4-2 formation regardless of the quality of the opposition in South Africa, and against Montenegro, has hindered progress to a far greater extent than any of his selection choices.

Capello has introduced new faces to his squad, but now needs to adapt his approach on the pitch

England and France were the lame ducks of the World Cup, and both have been tentatively restoring their reputations ever since. France have had recent wins over Luxembourg, Romania and Bosnia, but lost in Paris against Belarus in September and were beaten 2-1 by Norway in Oslo three weeks earlier. A victory for either side on Wednesday would go some way to repairing their damaged image, but for Capello the real opportunity on offer is to adapt his often ineffectual approach to the national side.



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