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Walcott pays for lack of progress

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Phil McNulty | 16:04 UK time, Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Theo Walcott will spend his summer doing exactly what he did four years ago - playing the part of an idle bystander watching England attempting to win the World Cup. But there is a crucial and personally devastating difference this time around.

Turn the clock back to Baden-Baden in 2006 and Walcott was simply happy - and probably utterly bemused - to be in Germany. The big story in Sven-Goran Eriksson's final squad, the Arsenal player was a nonsensical selection that had cynics suggesting the Swede was revealing a hitherto undetected sense of humour by picking a player he had only previously seen in training.

Now, four years on, Walcott is headline news again following England's chaotic World Cup squad announcement, the hat-trick hero of the crucial qualifying win in Croatia ruthlessly dumped on the scrapheap by Fabio Capello ahead of the South African campaign.

Walcott would have been banking on being on the plane that left Heathrow on Wednesday until he received Capello's fateful phone call while on the golf course - and in an instant his fall from grace since that balmy night in Zagreb was brutally underlined.

Now he will have all summer - and a World Cup - to reflect on his failure to develop into the world-class attacking talent we all thought we were watching in September 2008.

Walcott's exclusion can be justified by Capello on the grounds he has produced little of huge significance since, his career stalling on the twin obstacles of injury and lack of form.

Theo Walcott in action for EnglandWalcott's chance will come again. Photo: Reuters

He cannot draw on the reservoir of goodwill he created in Croatia forever and has not been good enough. Capello has called time, albeit temporarily, on his England career and delivered a harsh lesson that results are what he requires from his players.

Capello has been a big Walcott supporter, but the player's failings were evident against Mexico at Wembley last week. The burning pace was there, the ability to beat a man was there, but so was the lack of end product that has presumably weighed so heavily against him in Capello's calculations.

As for the man who has presumably pinched Walcott's seat on the plane, namely Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips, he hardly boasts a glowing list of England achievements himself.

Aaron Lennon would have been my choice ahead of Walcott for the right-flank slot, despite the Tottenham man's injury problems, but the Arsenal attacker's potentially destructive speed would have made him a worthwhile understudy as an impact substitute.

This role will now be filled by the highly fortunate Wright-Phillips, unless Capello has another plan in mind. I have never been convinced by Wright-Phillips at international level - and his form at Eastlands faded to such an extent last season that he was overtaken by the excellent Adam Johnson, also left out by Capello.

Johnson did not have quite enough time to mount his full case for inclusion, but he is a real talent and will surely have plenty of opportunities in the future.

Walcott, for his part, must go back to Arsenal - and the safe hands of Arsene Wenger - to reconstruct the elements of his game that compelled Capello to dispose of him from his World Cup plans.

BBC pundit Chris Waddle drew a strong response from Wenger last season when he said the following about Walcott: "I've never seen him develop. He just doesn't understand the game for me - where to be running, when to run inside a full-back, when to just play a one-two. It's all off the cuff.

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England's World Cup qualifying highlights

"I just don't think he's got a football brain and he's going to have problems. Let's be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time."

It may just be that Capello concurs, but Walcott is a highly-intelligent individual, not to mention dignified judging by his response to being omitted, so no-one should believe the final credits have rolled on his England career.

Capello's squad announcement carried a vaguely disorganised air, out of character with the Italian's meticulous attention to detail, with news of rumoured ins and outs appearing with such regularity that it was in danger of developing into some sort of World Cup hokey-cokey.

Let's hope the disorganisation ends here. The real news was the squad itself, no matter how it was finally announced, and leaves us with plenty to sift through.

Gareth Barry's return to fitness after ankle problems will have been greeted with delight by Capello, who sees his expertise in a holding role as vital, allowing him options in his use of Steven Gerrard, rather than pairing the Liverpool captain with Frank Lampard.

Michael Carrick is included and will provide cover in the central midfield area, leaving West Ham's Scott Parker and Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone to swallow their disappointment.

Carrick is a lucky man. He has been in decline for the last 12 months at club level and wins his place on what he has done in the past as opposed to what he has done recently.

The same applies to Aston Villa's Emile Heskey, who will be hoping his status as the man who gets the best out of Wayne Rooney - do we really have to rely on Heskey to make Rooney flourish? - guarantees him not just a place on the plane but in the team.

My own stated preference is for Gerrard to play just behind Rooney, but Heskey's supporters rightly quote statistics about how well England perform when he plays. Let's hope they are right when the final World Cup reckoning is made, especially given Peter Crouch's almost embarrassingly superior goals tally.

Darren Bent's impressive goalscoring record has once again counted for nothing, in the same way it failed to impress Eriksson four years ago. It is hard not to feel sorry for a striker who has not had the best of fortune with England. But some players seem destined to be nearly men at international level - and Bent is one of them.

While expressing reservations about the continued presence of goal-shy Heskey in Capello's squad, the decision to include Joe Cole is to be roundly applauded.

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World Cup guide - England


Cole was one of few - maybe two if you count Owen Hargreaves - unqualified England successes at the last World Cup. He brings a dash of invention and enthusiasm as well as moments of potentially game-changing skill.

Chelsea's apparent willingness to part with him on a free transfer is a mystery - and he now has the perfect platform to show the Blues what they might be giving up. Apart from his natural ability, Cole is a hugely popular member of the England squad whose presence will be welcomed.

If Capello's decision to pick Cole came late in the day, it could yet prove to be inspired.

Capello is counting on experience in defence as cover for the tried and (sort of) trusted quartet of Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole.

Jamie Carragher's return from England exile has been rewarded, as it was always going to be, with a place in the final squad, while Capello has ignored Ledley King's catastrophic injury record and struggles against Mexico to count on the quality he showed for Spurs in the final weeks of the season.

Aston Villa defender Stephen Warnock performed that most unique of feats - playing himself into a World Cup squad by simply sitting on the sidelines.

Reduced to the role of spectator in England's last two friendlies, he was able to watch his main rival, Everton's Leighton Baines, implode against Mexico and then arguably make up Capello's mind by publicly expressing his fears about homesickness if he was selected.

It is to be hoped Baines' exclusion is based solely on performance. It is hardly a punishable offence to admit to the highly human emotion of missing your family when you are away from home.

The goalkeeping trio of David James, Joe Hart and Robert Green were, of course, already confirmed. Who will start against the United States in Rustenburg is not such a certainty.

England's squad boasts experience, options and a world-class player who will fashion their fortunes in Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. Will it have enough world-class talent in other areas to end the 44-year wait to claim the game's greatest prize?

Capello now has less that a fortnight to answer the questions over form, formations and fitness. He has the men he hopes will win the World Cup for England.

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Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Can't understand the inclusion of Upson, we have enough central defensive cover. I think Capellos made a mistake not taking Adam Johnson. SWP is a bit of a lightweight and goes missing in important games. Our lack of a real goal scorer up front (apart from Rooney) worries me. I can see us struggling to score goals. Apart from that I agree with leaving Walcott out - headless chicken I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 2.

    Wenger fails to develop young talent?

    Say it isn't so!

  • Comment number 3.

    'Carrick is a lucky man. He has been in decline for the last 12 months at club level and wins his place on what he has done in the past as opposed to what he has done recently.

    The same applies to Aston Villa's Emile Heskey,'

    On that basis, Walcott should have been on the plane. At least Walcott's past form includes a WC qualifying round hat-trick, which can't be said of Carrick or Heskey. I'm not necessarily saying Walcott SHOULD have been included, but if I were him, I'd be feeling a bit sore right now, seeing Carrick and Heskey selected. I know they weren't vying for the same positions but if Capello's basis for selection was current form as opposed to past glories then neither Carrick, Heskey oo indeed, Shaun Wright-Phillips should be going.

    Or maybe it's just indicative of an overall lack of strength in depth in all positions. Even Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 squad looked stronger than this.


  • Comment number 4.

    Well, he has really paid the price, for agreeing to play for both the under 21 and the senior squad. Wenger told him he would burn out.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/world-cup-2010/teams/england/5395815/Theo-Walcott-inclusion-in-England-Under-21-squad-leaves-Arsene-Wenger-simmering.html

    He had a poor season, albeit the injuries, and in the long run no World Cup! Time to Learn.

  • Comment number 5.

    Walcott has not improved in any department in the 4 years he has been at Arsenal. His pace is great but 9 times out of 10 he makes the wrong choice when it counts. I can only imagine that his hat trick against Croatia was a fluke because he has failed to deliver half that end product in ANY GAME for club and country since. The right choice was to leave him at home.

  • Comment number 6.

    Warnock is the real surprise, as you say, he's found himself in the squad simply because Capello has realised Baines isn't good enough. That doesn't mean Warnock is, however.

    Relying on experience is one thing, but can this aging England team really deliver?

  • Comment number 7.

    Looks to me Phil that Capello has taken the safe option with this squad. All the arguements about form and playing regularly have gone out the window and players have been selected for thier time spent in the England set up. What are your thoughts about this?

    For me Dawson goes over Upson, who has been shocking to put it mildly, Parker goes over Carrick who has lost form this season and A. Johnson goes over SWP for the fact he is a) Left footed and a good crosser of the ball and b) a bit of an unknown quantity.

    With regards Walcott, i'm not bothered if he goes or not, he's a nice lad and exactly the type of person off the pitch we all wish footballers were, intellegent and polite but too many times he gets in a good position and instead of delivering a cross checks and passes backwards. I tend to agree with Chris Waddle's statements about him.

    On the Heskey issue, if Wayne Rooney says he plays better with Hesky along side him then who are we to argue? IMHO Rooney and A. Cole are the only 2 world class players in our squad so we need to get the best of them and utilise our potent midfield options to get goals.

  • Comment number 8.

    I fully agree with Phil and Capello, Walcott was living off the one game in Croatia and his recent performances for Arsenal and England have been all promise and no product. I'm not convinced SWP is the right man for the squad though, he has fallen out of favour and Adam Johnson has shown in the leage that he is more than capable. I think I'd have gambled on him, seeing as he can cover both flanks. He could have been our surprise package off the bench.

    As for Heskey, well he's very lucky that his past performances have kept him in, but Capello has a system and no one else is fit enough or has shown enough to prove they are capable of the striking role he likes Heskey within. He isn't my favourite player, but I can see why he is in the squad and if his presence allows Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard to prosper, then so be it.

    Should the unthinkable happen and we make it to the final, wouldn't it be about right for big Emile to snatch a scrappy winner and make himself a somewhat unlikely legend?

  • Comment number 9.

    What was 'chaotic' Phil, save the fevered speculation and guesswork from all of us?

  • Comment number 10.

    Forget Walcott. Jinky's exclusion is completely bonkers.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm a bit bemused by the sub-heading on the main page. Phil doesn't seem to be saying it's the right decision to leave Walcott out.

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree that he should be left out. It seems thats he has been around for 10 years after making his name at Southampton, but not much has changed really has it?

    Also, being a winger/inside forward you are counted on to either deliver a good cross or pass to another player or score. He doesnt do any of that often.

    When he does, he shows what hes capable of.

    SWP is in because hes atleast consistant.

  • Comment number 13.

    A few things baffle me with the squad to be honest. Firstly Capello mentioned form alone would be the reason why people would be picked, hes obviously gone against his word. Carrick has had an awful season for United (coming from a United fan), and also lets be fair Gerrard has also been very poor for Liverpool. Im not suggesting at the slightest that he shouldnt take Gerrard, every1 knows he's absolute quality, but on recent form??? No matter what anyone says, Adam Johnson for me had to go. The only natural left footed attacking player in the provisional 30, has been in sparkling form for City but SWP gets the nod??? Now whose gonna play wide left against the USA. Gerrard, Lennon, SWP. All 3 will be ineffective down there. Shame also for Dawson i feel, much better season than fellow clubmate King and also a far less gamble injury-wise. On the Walcott note i agree on his omission entirely, but just feel his talent is going to waste by trying to turn him into a right winger. The lad is a last man striker. Its clear to see. He doesnt have the flair to beat his man and deliver a pin point cross from the byline, what he does have is blistering pace, and a clinical finish. Absoloute clinical. Similiar player in my view to Defoe. And even if Arsene does continue to use him wide right, that doesnt stop Capello saying well for England your going to play right up top. Rant over lol (and all this from a welshman)!

  • Comment number 14.

    has Walcott had a good season no, but having said that at least 5 of the 23 man squad are not going to see any action barring a barrage of injuries at the WC. He could have been used in tied games at the 70min mark with potentially 50 mins left where his speed would have been a weapon against tired defenses. Despite all his shortcomings he is blessed with the ability to change the game in an instant. Space could have been found for a player like that easily, they are carrying 5 centre-backs?? also both Lennon and SWP, he should have found space for THeo on that Bus.

  • Comment number 15.

    You can argue that none of the other players really perform in an England shirt either, not in the same way they perform when playing for their club.
    I think it's a mistake not taking him, a player like this can come into a game and make a huge impact, a very good sub to have, and by calling him up into the tournament, this can give him the boost needed to make a lasting impression, look at what he did coming on as a bub against Barcelon at the Emirates, this could be the same impact and boost needed to England in a tricky qtr or semi-final.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    After looking at the squad selection, I just cannot believe the same schoolboy error has been made. Four years ago I said that England would pay the price for not having a fifth striker and I've noticed yet again that this lesson hasn't been learned.

    For me, having a fifth player to 'put the ball in the net' is essential to progression to the latter stages of the tournament, especially as Rooney is injury-prone and a 'marked man'.

    Sorry to say, but it looks like quarter final tops, yet again!

  • Comment number 18.

    Come on Mods - gerragrip!

  • Comment number 19.

    i suppose there's still time for johnson and walcott as they're both so young. they need to start by playing regularly in the prem

    i suppose the big questions are over whether:

    - heskey will bring anything to the team (the stats suggest he will)
    - whether barry will be match fit
    - whether gerrard and lamps can get some sort of understanding going
    - has green finally earnt the no.1 spot?

    smaller questions:

    - which carrick will turn up (if required)?
    - who are capello's first choices for the wings?
    - who partners rooney?
    - will carragher get a game if johnson stays fit?

    i wonder if capello is 100% sure of the answer to these questions. but, i suppose it doesn't matter if he does change his mind - ramsey made changes to his first choice XI during '66

  • Comment number 20.

    Decent squad. Shame Scott Parker wasn't given a chance to prove himself as as a specialist holding midfielder. Heskey has to start - to abandon the system that brought such impressive displays in qualifying would be crazy.

  • Comment number 21.

    An interesting few choices in there I have to say. It is a toss-up between Wright-Phillips and Walcott, and to be honest I'd count them as the same so its unlucky to Walcott.

    Baines is another one who's unlucky, one poor game and he pretty much blew his chances...I'm kind of glad Warnock didn't get his chance, although as a Villa fan I would of taken him anyway.

    And on the Villa fan note, even I can't believe we are taking Heskey. He has brought very little to the Villa team even when tried for a few weeks in a row. Although the alternatives aren't amazing either. I'd give Gerrard a go behind Rooney against the USA, if Heskey is such a super player he can afford to come on in the 2nd half and help Rooney get a hat trick as I'm sure The Sun will claim.

    And I hope Hart gets a chance. The Italians and Spaniards have had their goal keeping issues solved for over 10 years by taking a chance on a youngster and letting them prove they are good enough for the world stage.

  • Comment number 22.

    Cant't agree with you here Phil. With 20 minutes of a game to go and the opposition looking tired who would you rather see warming up? Michael Carrick and SWP or Theo Walcott. It has to be the latter everytime. Carrick is consistently slow on the ball, so much so that Fergie is widely known to have blamed him for United's defeat to Barcelona in the CL final. His inability to speed up his distribution causes numerous problems, and in all honesty he's a bit "soft", I struggle to remember an aggressive tackle he's ever made. As for taking SWP, its somewhat laughable really. Adam Johnson would have been far more useful and he has the ability to deliver a pinpoint ball from the left, something England clearly lack. Warnock too should be nowhere near this squad, he's simply not good enough. Realistically Ashley Cole will play every game leaving warnock to sit around doing nothing, i just cannot see what he offers to the squad. I think England will scrape through to the quarter finals, but I think our tournament will be ended by France via Yoann Gourcuff. Given the chance to roam in midfield against us, due to the lack of a tough tackling DMF i.e Scott Parker. Meanwhile Toulalan will negate any of our attacking threat from midfield. International football is 9 tenths possession, sadly we have almost no players who can distribute the ball effectively. Were we to play Spain during the tournament, or even the Dutch it would be a somewhat sobering experience for many England fans...

  • Comment number 23.

    The argument that Walcott has not developed over the past year is fair enough, but how come it doesn't apply to players like Carrick and Wright-Phillips, who also had lacklustre seasons? I would've thought Walcott is a preferable understudy to Lennon than Wright-Phillips, especially when considering their past performances for England and Walcott's big-game form. (he scored against Barcelona, for example)

  • Comment number 24.

    After all that Capello has achived it still shocks me how nobody trusts him. The man knows what he's doing. It's time to start believing in him.

  • Comment number 25.

    Some strange selections. I presume he knows what he's doing.
    Walcott gives us pace if nothing else, i can't see SWP being an improvement. If you are going to take King it makes more sense to also take Dawson for club synergy rather than Upson. Why was Warnock not played against Japan if Baines was that bad against Mexico (which he was IMHO.)Is Warnock going for ballast as Barry will play left back if Ashley Cole gets injured / suspended? Will someone tell me why Micah Richards was not even considered for the 30 man squad?
    Finally Penalty taking Joe Hart for No 1.

  • Comment number 26.

    Completely agree on Walcott......hes unlucky to lose out but like Leighton Baines, he did more harm to his cause than good in those last few games.
    SWPs inclusion baffles me seeing as we already have Lennon and Milner. I would have preferred Adam Johnson as back up for Joe Cole. Nothing depresses me more than a winger who either blindly charges in to his fullback (SWP) or fails to deliver a cross (Walcott).

    I think Walcott could do with a season away from Arsenal if not a permanent move.
    As seen in the Croatia hat-trick game hes at his best playin in a 'direct' style with passes over or through for him to run on to as has Darren Bent at Sunderland

  • Comment number 27.

    Walcott being left out is fine by me. It's his replacement that concerns me as SWP is much worse. Why not pick the person keeping him out of his club side instead?

    "Johnson did not have quite enough time to mount his full case for inclusion, but he is a real talent and will surely have plenty of opportunities in the future."

    Agreed, but still, he's only played about 2 minutes less international football than Warnock and he's there!

  • Comment number 28.

    What's the point of letting all these newbies post in pre-mod? Not much to read is there?
    RE: "Capello's squad announcement carried a vaguely disorganised air, out of character with the Italian's meticulous attention to detail, with news of rumoured ins and outs appearing with such regularity that it was in danger of developing into some sort of World Cup hokey-cokey.
    Let's hope the disorganisation ends here. The real news was the squad itself, no matter how it was finally announced, and leaves us with plenty to sift through."
    Nobody but the media to blame there I'm afraid. They were the ones reporting all the unconfirmed speculative trash. Unfortunately it won't end here as you say, it will only get worse.

  • Comment number 29.

    We don't stand a chance in SA. I am not even sure we'll get past the group stages. I have never seen England play as a team where you are assured that they will score goals and defeat the opposition. Individual exceptional players can't seem to play together as a unit. This includes Rooney who always seems to be left frustrated at the end of every game with the national squad.

    If you weren't to know of his reputation, you'd be left to wonder what the fuss is all about

  • Comment number 30.

    I cant complain about that squad Capello has gone for its probably the best we have to offer. It would of been nice to see Parker in an England shirt but wasnt to be, so COME ON ENGLAND

  • Comment number 31.

    Walcott is paying for Wenger mistake in playing him out of position.
    Theo is not a winger, his a striker...as long as Arsenal keep him
    out on the wing, Theo will never move on in his career.
    if you look at that England hatrick, Rooney was up fron by himself,
    and Walcott push up and broke into the middle next to Rooney
    and scored three goals...it happens everytie he plays for Arsenal
    when Theo is in more of a central role, he delivers much more
    consistancy.
    the other part is his injuries, which has killled him for 2 seasons.
    he missed nearly 5 months in 2009, and another 4 months in 2010.
    with that track record of his shoulder trouble (both now pinned)
    Theo has missed a hell of a lot of football, which could play into
    his lack of development........but for sure Theo has to play more
    central, otherwise he'll never follow Henry's footsteps in that
    No:14 shirt.

  • Comment number 32.

    the way the squad announcement was done was an absolute joke.
    England must of been the only country to announce the squad thro journo's.

    How hard could it have been just to tell us whos in?

  • Comment number 33.

    He is still young. If he spends some time improving his touch and passing he will be a contender for the next Euros of the World Cup

  • Comment number 34.

    It is no real surprise to me that Walcott has missed out on the squad. His form for Arsenal, when he has played, has just not been at a high enough or consistent enough level. I am actually a little disappointed with the squad in the squad on the whole. Capello stated when he took the job that reputation alone was not enough; players would only be selected based on form and fitness. So, Gerrard, Carragher and Terry have been in form this season? Heskey, Ferdinand and Cole have played when exactly?

    I don't have an issue with squads being selected on reputations but it is disappointing to see Capello go against his word.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 35.

    Chief Football writer and you can't get the site up and running.... why post a blog if you won't post comments. Suggest you contact Lewis Wilshire and ask for help !!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Walcott should leave Arsenal if he wants a future with England.

  • Comment number 37.

    Walcott hasn't shown anything in his last 3 games to be selected. Simple as.

    That said, as a Manchester City fan I'm scratching my head as to why Adam Johnson isn't going if SWP is. AJ has has a superb second half of the season at City. He's better than SWP by a country mile. He's two footed and can play on both flanks, he's a great crosser of the ball, is a good dribbler and can maintain posession. Oh and he's not slow either. J.Cole on one flank and A.Cole on the other could go toe to toe with Brazil and Spain. It's a big mistake not to take AJ.

  • Comment number 38.

    My personal thought is that leaving theo out is a disgrace. He is one player who brings a totally different dynamic to the team. People would say that Lennon can add that but for me I would have them both playing on either flank. Mr. Capello is wasting one of the brightest stars in English football with this move.

  • Comment number 39.

    Capello got it right for me.

    Come on lads - have it!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    i think it was the right choice tbh :) lets stop moaning at Capellos decision and start getting behind this country

  • Comment number 41.

    How on earth did Carrick and SWP make the squad?!

    I know Theo has been unconvincing in recent times, and his injuries have prevented him having game time for an upturn in form, but to take SWP in front of him? Lennon, even though I'm a Gooner, I have to admit was always looking likely to be picked ahead of Walcott, but I'm frankly stunned that a distinctly average player like SWP who has shown nothing special throughout his England career (and can't even get a club starting spot ahead of Adam Johnson) should be in the squad. Walcott and Johnson are both far more likely to scare defenders. In fact, I wouldn't be at all suprised to see full backs high fiving each other when SWP comes off the bench, knowing their job for the day is done.

    As for Carrick...well what can be said that hasn't already been said? Awful season, awful in his club and his country's shirts. If Capello had bothered to try Scott Parker in the midfield against Mexico or Japan he'd have seen that he is the only choice to back up Barry. Given a chance, I'm firmly convinced that Parker would have been the Hargreaves of this WC for England. Capello blabs on about form, but by that token (and even though I'm a firm supporter of Theo) Johnson and Parker should have filled those two seats on the plane. Simples. Except if you're Italian, it would seem.

    Out in the QF.

  • Comment number 42.

    Personally, I think leaving Walcott out is a mistake. Admittedly, there are question-marks over his match-fitness - but that is true, too, of several others, including Barry and Rooney.

    Anyone who saw how Walcott transformed Arsenal after coming on against Barcelona will appreciate that he has real flair, and this is something of which no squad can have too much.

    At the very least, he would have offered a valuable option from the bench. Much as I admire Capello, I think this is a mistake.

  • Comment number 43.

    Waltcott is versatile, being able to play as a striker as well as a winger. Defenders fear his pace and having the option of playing him through the middle in a situation like England against Portugal when Rooney broke his metatarsal is invaluable.

    Neither Lennon nor the non-playing, questionable Wright-Philips have that capability. Such a quality is surely worth its weight in gold. However Don Fabio is a clever old fox, and his inclusion of Joe Cole is comendable.

    One hope he will not regret leaving Theo behind, for the exact same reason Sven did four years ago in taking him.

  • Comment number 44.

    Camp Nou, 2010, Barcelona vs Arsenal

    The Barca fans booed Walcott the most. His pace was good enough, his intelligence underrated enough, to worry the crowd.

    Theo Walcott was feared.

    But now, we must rely on SWP to provide penetration and pace... when was the last time you heard "Wright-Phillips" and "pin-point cross" in the same sentence? He is hardly better than Walcott, this season or talent-wise.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Not surprised that Walcott has been left out, even as an Arsenal fan. His last three performances for England have not been up to the standard required and his form this season has been patchy to say the least. I feel for the lad as I am sure had he had an injury free season he would be in the squad. This will probably be good for him in the long run as he must now assess how he needs to improve. I'm sure he'll bounce back next season. As for the rest of the squad, it's about right. Bent hasn't managed to take any of his opportunities at international level. Any striker is clearly going to have to play with Rooney and although Heskey doesn't score a lot, his partnership with Rooney is the most effective for the team.

  • Comment number 47.

    It must be me, but what I fail to understand is Heskey...why?

    I am 41, a bit slow off the mark, it takes me 20 minutes to turn, I cant run past anyone anymore, I can hold the ball up and I always buy my round in the bar...surely I should have got the nod before Heskey....

  • Comment number 48.

    Just looking below - Topical posts from this blog - highest numbet 379. Phil, I think you will exceed your record without actually posting any comments. Well Done - as are we all. What a pointless exercise on what will be the most talked about thing in the pubs/clubs/houses....

  • Comment number 49.

    Fabio has picked a squad with good balance and sufficient cover in every position.

    Nonetheless, the omission of Walcott has come as a great surprise to me. My only gripe with the squad is that we have perhaps taken one too many centre backs. Do we really need 5? Carragher covers both centre and right back but is much more adept and at home in the centre, and with King selected as well I felt we could have afforded to leave Upson at home and taken another attacking option like Walcott. Despite his relatively poor form Theo could potentially change a game as an impact substitute with his pace. Also he must be relatively fresh having missed half the season. Regarding the defence, what are the chances that three of Terry, Ferdinand, King and Carragher all getting injured? Matthew Upson surely needs such an occurrence to be making an appearance in the finals. Thus I would have opted for Walcott ahead of him, as he could have potentially changed a game for us. Ultimately though, if we are to be successful at the World Cup then all the debate about who should have gone will be quashed and rightly so. At least Fabio hasn't picked two half-injured forwards, a 16 year old who hasn't played in the premier league and an abundance of central midfielders like Sven last time. I am certainly a lot happier with the squad than I was four years ago!


    Another point I want to raise- I actually agree with Gareth Southgate strongly about the goalkeeping situation. Competition for places is one thing, but the uncertainty about who is no. 1 at this stage of preparations I do not believe is beneficial for the team, particularly the back four, who I am almost certain would like to know who is going to be lining up behind them. My hunch is that Fabio will start with Green, but I would like him to name him earlier than the proposed hour and a half before Kick off.

  • Comment number 50.

    I feel a bit sorry for Theo Walcott. As an Arsenal fan, I strongly believe that the lack of experienced players at the club has delayed his progress. Over time, players like Thierry Henry and Robert Pires would have taught him how to use his pace more intelligently.

  • Comment number 51.

    One thing that stands out for me is the relative lack of pace in the squad.

    Lennon and SWP, they have genuine pace. But no-one else really, and I wonder if that leaves England a little short of the sort of options that might be helpful. For matches played at altitude especially, when defenders will be puffing more than normal after 75 minutes, Walcott might have been a mighmare to defend.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think that the correct decision has been made regarding Theo, he just isn't up to it, at the moment, as his last 2 games have shown. I have no doubt however, that he will go on to great things for England. SWP is a mystery though, he is not good enough, brings little end product, the same thing as Theo has been dropped for, and Adam Johnson would have brought more to the squad.

    I would also have been inclined to drop Jermaine Defoe. His form has been non-existent for the last 6 months and will not threaten any World Cup defences. It is just a shame that the only possible replacement would have been Darren Bent (who I would still have taken).

    Still, a stronger squad than the majority of others and definitely in with a shout of winning, as are 6 or 7 teams.

  • Comment number 53.

    I can't fault Capello. He has picked experienced players who are much less likely to go missing during games and are more likely to make a contribution if brought on.

    If you look at the players under 27, they have all shown they have the bottle to play for England, and can take responsibility. Those players being Milner, Hart, Johnson and Rooney (who's been taking responsibility since he was 17!)

    Walcott has been left out, not so much because his delivery is poor - (I don't think it's any worse than Lennon's or Wright-Phillips) - It's his decision making - as Waddle said he needs to know what he's going to do before he does it rather than doing it "off the cuff".

  • Comment number 54.

    Phil, the sub-headline of your article claims that you are arguing that Theo's omission was the right decision, yet you claim he should have gone ahead of SWP. Thought you might want to clear things up at least!

    On the matter itself, I believe Capello has made the wrong call although I am not overly surprised. Fabio has put too much pressure on Theo by regularly starting him. Lennon is a better player and Walcott should have been given time to develop and impact off the bench. Walcott and Joe Cole were the only players we could have taken to South Africa with the ability to change a game coming off the bench, something that is vital in the KO Stages. You have made the point about Theo being judged by his performance in Croatia, but this is part of the other problem. The media have constantly judged him by those standards which was ridiculous and very unfair to the lad! He has been injured and this is the main reason there has been a "lack of progress". We must remember that he is only 21 and has plenty of time to develop, but I do hope that he views this as a kick up the backside.

  • Comment number 55.

    First off Phil the "disorganisation" today was nothing of the sort. It was caused by the Media and some players and their hangers on who couldn't keep their mouths shut.

    Barry had a medical at 0900 that by all accounts lasted quite a while. So from about 1000-1030 Cappello probably started calling players. Now the media have some idea that he only needed to call the 7 to be cut. Why? Do the rest deserve to be left hanging till the press conferance? So by about 1530 he had all the calls done and an announcment was made the squad would be revealed in 1/2 an hour. 5 Hours, 23 calls, not exactly sitting on his hands!

    And on the subject of phone calls. Walcott was apparently hard to get hold of because he was playing golf, either that was extreeem arrogance or a resignation that he has played himself out of contention.

    On our actual squad, it's about what I expected, I'm glad J Cole is going as he's our only "winger" who knows how to cross, for all your obvious dislike of him as a player I'm pretty sure Beckham would have walked into this squad. Wright-Philips is lucky because of Beckham, not because of Walcott.

    My big worry is the right back slot. I can see any 1/2 decent team giving us problems there and can you imagine what the forwards of Spain Brazil or Argentina would do? It's a horrifing thought the amount of space Johnson leaves.

    Finally on the long, and frankly now rather boring, Heskey debate. Capello, Sven, and McLaren have all picked him. They are earning millions (well the first 2 are) as managers because they know what they are doing, while you Phil are just an armchair pundit who get's paid.

    Cappello is a big one for stats (as we found out the other week) and the stats say the TEAM is better when Heskey plays. It's really probably that simple.

    IMO I think we should be glad that Cappello isn't bowing to the media's and players superior knowledged that did McLaren so well. We are the only squad playing the system we do.

    I give you the "holding forward"

    I give you the one, the only HESKEY!

  • Comment number 56.

    The Walcott-Cole debate is not a raging one.But what Michael Carrick is supposed to offer this team is a complete mystery to me.
    'Tried and tested' is the phrase being used here.Then why not take Lineker and Shearer?We shouldn't use this World Cup as an arena for Carrick to possibly make a comeback.He's just not good enough.

  • Comment number 57.

    Walcott probably understands why he's been left out. His form this season, coupled with recurring injuries, has hampered his development, and in too many games for us this season his final ball has been frustratingly off. Therefore I can understand the decision to leave him out, as an Arsenal fan.

    I hope Tottenham fans now don't pour onto this blog and take digs at Walcott. They wanted him out, he's been pulled from the squad understandably, and let that be that. No need to kick him while he's down.

    Moreover, I hope Tottenham supporters don't unnecessarily use this as an opportunity to criticise Arsenal for not having an English player in the England WC squad. Firstly, we have English players in our squad, and because one of our England internationals hasn't been selection isn't an indictment on the club's so called lack of "Englishness". If you look at the England U21's, we have some players who are either established or are making themselves established in the setup, like Gibbs, Wilshere and Lansbury. Moreover, I think players like Jay Emmanuel Thomas may make the breakthrough soon.

    Note also that players like Craig Eastmond have been given first team opportunities this season, so obviously Wenger doesn't have any prejudice against English players, something that some supporters have rather ridiculously suggested. Note that a player like Kieron Gibbs, who had barely had any experience of first team football, was thrown in against Man Utd in a UCL semi final. This doesn't suggest that Wenger will prefer foreign players over English players.

    Will all these players end up having England honours? Obviously not, but to suggest we are not developing English players is wrong, because looking at our squad, you can clearly see we are, and with a bit of luck we will see some of these players in the England squad in the European Championships in 2012 (especially Wilshere and Gibbs)

  • Comment number 58.

    i guess one of england's biggest concern is the same concern we've had for many years - can gerrard and lampard play in the same team? they have around 80 caps each over a time frame which is pretty similar and yet we are none the wiser as to whether they can actually play together, which would imply that they can't.

    i hope capello just leaves gerrard as a super sub, and/or tries to play him the way that liverpool have almost as a support striker.

    as for darren bent, apart from his goals, he doesn't add anything to the team and he has a questionable technique. has anyone ever seen a player so poor at kicking the ball? if huddlestone strikes the ball clean, and crouch just about gets the ball off the ground, then bent truly is bent! i couldn't pick a player to play for england who can't even kick the ball straight.

    the england midfield is the most concern. in terms of pace and mobility, i think we're only looking at lennon and gerrard as having any speed. great news barry is in the team as he makes the team click.

    i hope for the first time in a decade we can actually have a team that throws everything at the opposition and doesn't play negative and go out on penalties after a tournament where the team's emphasis has been placed on defensive solidity.

    it was never going to happen but i always favoured england having options - with someone like kevin davies upfront, who can really mix things up, or a james beattie. people talk about world class players, but world class players don't beat the world's best teams - well organised, clever teams beat them are the ones that make the difference.

    we need options and need to be adaptable and i hope this squad has that. it is a shame to have wright-phillips in and adam johnson out when wright-phillips has always been a ball loser and a general non-entity for the sides he's played with. i consider him vastly overrated, ineffective and not someone who you want in your team when you're playing the really big teams. a lot of the time against the big teams england have time and time lost the ball and not been able to win it back and this has meant that england have struggled to compete - i can forsee wright-phillips assisting in keeping this status quo.

  • Comment number 59.

    I hate hero worship and the media yet again are partly responsible for Rooney becoming a one man band!
    The only regular goal scorer in this squad at International level is Crouch and he barely gets a mention.
    Heskey is like a cart horse and is no better than Crouch at holding the ball up and in fact Crouch is better at everything especially scoring goals which surely is a centre forwards bread and butter.
    The talk of Lampard and Gerrard gelling together should also be aimed at Crouch and Rooney.
    Great players adapt and can play with anyone.
    Rooney cannot adapt and we will see that in this world cup.
    Heskey is a poor mans lot and if he starts then the world will be laughing!

  • Comment number 60.

    Im not surprised Walcott didnt get in. Im more surprised that Adam Johnson wasnt given more of a chance. Hes a great talent and unlike most of the other wingers, he has an end product.

    Carricks inclusion baffles me somewhat, but apart from that no major surprises

  • Comment number 61.

    There are now 45 comments awaiting moderation, going back for an hour.

    'All posts are pre-moderated. What does this mean?'

    - It means somebody who is hugely indecisive and fretful, and who can only read very slowly, keeps having to refer everything to a higher authority. These 'higher' people are obviously very busy having tea-breaks (with some fruit-cake), so can't respond with the alacrity and (supposed) wisdom asked of them. There is no point asking for comment and then ignoring it for an hour. The whole point is to get an exchange of views going (however cranky).

  • Comment number 62.

    Hmmmm! Made a comment at 5.21pm - it's now 6.25pm and still waiting for it to be moderated.

    GREAT BLOG MCNULTY!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    "He cannot draw on the reservoir of goodwill he created in Croatia forever and has not been good enough. Capello has called time, albeit temporarily, on his England career and delivered a harsh lesson that results are what he requires from his players."

    I'm sorry, but I can not agree with this, by this logic, how has Emile Heskey been included?

    Shaun Wright Phillips, has no outstanding performances recently for England- how can his inclusion be justified?

  • Comment number 64.

    Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!!! Why do u idiots down south not use your pool of talent instead your manager insists on continuing with the same group of players who yes are experianced but have proven on countless occasions that they just don't cut the mustered at international level! Mix it up a little!!! Why pick heskey when u have crouch? Both target men then send home bent who can sniff a goal out from 6 yards with the best of them. Rooney I know can do the box sniffing too but what if he has a bad game? England will turn there back on him like you always do. As for only picking one natural left footed player ( a cole), sending home a growing talent in Adam Johnston and keeping joe cole?? Madness!! Johnstone too young, no experiance?? Owen 98 anyone? Good enough, old enough!

    Rant done!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I would have taken Walcott, but cannot complain that after the amount of chances Walcott has been given. Against the weaker teams who set up defensively, Walcott's performances have been far from flattering. He just does not have the guile to think his way through or make effective space for himself when being double marked. Put him against a decent team where he will get the space to operate and he is a different animal. Even as poor as I believe Walcott has been, there is no way I would have selected Wright Phillips, who consistent gives the ball away in dangerous positions. Walcott would have been a decent option against the better teams, SWP will always be a liability what ever.

    Normally for any young player I would fully endorse these comments "Walcott, for his part, must go back to Arsenal - and the safe hands of Arsene Wenger", but believe this is where all his problems originate. For what ever reason coming into Arsenal at such an early age has indoctrinated him to the philosophy of the team first, the individual second. Normally admirable ideals apart from when you take this to the nth degree and render yourself diminished as an attacking entity. This is not always the case and produces real quality moments for Arsenal, but tends to revert into this super safe mode when unsure of himself or the situation. Walcott has to be one of the greatest potential English players I have seen, but I believe he would have been far better served in a CCC team for an extra couple of seasons, where he could afford to be selfish and develop fully as an attacker. Coming into such a great Arsenal team alongside Henry and the like, seems to have made more of a eunuch than a lion of the boy.

  • Comment number 66.

    What has SWP done to deserve a place. Really bad decision in my opinion - and apart from replacing Upson with Dawson I think he's got it right.

    Either Johnson or Walcott would have been preferable to him. Johnson as he has had a blinding end to the season and Walcott due to his pace. SWP does not have the pace of Walcott - although he has exactly the same complete lack of end product........

  • Comment number 67.

    I personnaly think the reactions from Ronney during the games he played the Theo had something to do with the kid not being included the final squad. At sometime during the past season even the great players were lacking in competition in productivity and in conditioning. Ronney tends to be incensed with the lad if he miss a pass or a cross to him (Ronney). These reactions from him (Ronney), trowing his hands in the air, sighing heavily and so on made the coach's mind since Ronney will be his man up front for good or for bad. Keep in mind Ronney is carrying and enjury to South Africa. Let's all hope that Ronney will be all we expect him to be in few weeks time....
    For Theo he is still young and has time on his side. may be next time...

  • Comment number 68.

    I have NEVER seen Walcott have a good game. He should be nowhere near the England squad.

  • Comment number 69.

    Agree with most of this, Phil - Walcott has definitely stagnated since 2008. His performance that year in coming off the bench at Anfield in the Champions League was sensational and nearly turned things Arsenal's way, while his hat-trick in Zagreb was brilliant. But, in racehorse terms, he doesn't seem to have 'trained on'. This may be because of injuries. But he is young and has an excellent teacher in Wenger so I'm sure he will be back with a bang soon enough.

    Bent is unlucky but is behind Rooney and Defoe in that particular role. Crouch and Heskey are different types of player to the others and were always going to be on the plane.

    Carrick has definitely gone backwards and I have never really rated him in the first place. However, I think he'll probably start against the USA alongside Lampard if Barry isn't quite ready. That will free Gerrard up to support Rooney. I expect Milner and Lennon to start too. Milner, Gerrard and Rooney can at times be interchangable in a 4-2-3-1 formation and Capello likes this fluidity in his teams.

    And I hope Hart starts in goal...

    http://twoyellowcards.co.uk/

  • Comment number 70.

    And I wish that Arsenal fans don't get criticised if some are disappointed that Walcott hasn't been included. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, because it is a natural reaction for fans of a particular team to want their players to be selected for the national team. For example, Gary Mabutt was on SSN expressing disappointment that Huddlestone and Dawson aren't in the squad, which is understandable, both because they've had good seasons, but also, as a former Spurs man, he wanted their players in the squad.

    So some of the comments I've heard on 606 describing Arsenal fans who are supporting Walcott as delusional and somehow unpatriotic is utterly pathetic and risible. Those opposition supporters who made those comments have no evidence to back up their claims that somehow, Arsenal fans are willing to put club allegiance above national interests. Of course we would have LIKED Walcott to have been included in the squad, but that doesn't mean we were blind to the fact that there was a good chance of him not being included, and obviously that's how it's panned out.

    So, to conclude, I hope the comments about Arsenal fans being somehow unpatriotic are stopped, because they are unnecessary and completely detached from reality, the reality being that the English Arsenal fans will support England, even if Walcott isn't there.

    This needed to be said, because I feel this negative perception of Arsenal fans is quite prevalent, and is based on nothing but the prejudices of some supporters of opposition teams. For example, at the Chelsea game in the Premiership in the season just gone, the Chelsea fans chanted "you're not English anymore" in reference both at the team and the supporters, both of which are allegations that are completely unwarranted.

  • Comment number 71.

    IMHO I think Walcott downfall started lastyear when he went down to play ofr the U21 team in the WC and was bench. That has created a doubt in his and Capello mind he is not quite ready for thr Sr team (and he is not) not to mention how much it affect his confident level.

    I also would have pick A Johnson over SWP who I doubt can be a factor in internation football. He is just a mini version of Walcott.

    After the Mexico game Capello said non of his 23 squad has change so none of these player that are dropped were considered good enough in the beginning.

  • Comment number 72.

    Theo Walcott only has himself to blame for missing this world cup. He tried so hard to please the England bosses that he went against Arsene Wenger who told him to skip the Under 21 European Championship last year. Wenger felt the negatives outweight the positives but Walcott did not listen. He ended up missing pre-season because of fatigue from the under 21 European championship and this lack of training resulted in injuries which hampered his season. I respect Wenger a lot and he saw a clear and present danger in Walcott playing for the under 21 team and now he can unfortunately can say I told you so. Walcott now has to concentrate on his club football and come back to prove Capello wrong. Now despite all of this ,I feel that Capello made an error in not selecting Walcott or Johnson. I do agree with you Phil that Wright Philips is not a suitable backup for Lennon who just returned from injuries. One of England's strength is speed and Walcott could stretch out a game in the dying minutes and make a difference. That threat if Lennon gets hurt is gone. The ability to cross is also gone with the injury to Beckham. I don't have a good feeling about this England team. These players are tried and tested but they also failed previously. What is the difference now? If they fail to get to the quaterfinals or end up losing by 2 or 3 goals, will Sven then be considered a good coach in retrospect?

  • Comment number 73.

    "his failure to develop into the world-class attacking talent we all thought we were watching in September 2008"

    before we put another nail in walcott's coffin, can people please see sense that the lad's only 21!! he has 2/3 world cups left in him, and after the injuries he's had this season and the last he hasn't really had the chance to really let his talent flourish. I agree he shouldn't be in this squad but with a full season behind him i am positive he would not only be on the plane, but be in the starting line up.

  • Comment number 74.

    Walcott doesn't surprise me - SWP over Adam Johnson does. Johnson is keeping SWP out of the Man City team, and offers options on both right and left.

  • Comment number 75.

    Delighted to see Joe Cole in the squad - he, Carragher and Hart were the only positives on Sunday. I just hope Capello actually uses Cole and Carragher in his starting 11. England looked so much better balanced when Carragher replaced 'am-I-a-defender-or-a-winger' Johnson.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think Walcott should've been in instead of Heskey. I mean come on - what has Heskey done in comparison to Walcott? Not much, I'd say. And in this year's World Cup, SPEED is the name of the game, more than ever, and I think Heskey is too slow now. Even Crouch is a bit on the languid side, and he's game-to-game in that respect. You're going to want to throw in some speed to cut through the defenses in the latter stages, in a youngster who will turn on the jets when called upon on a big stage like this. Plus, this decision is more about the NOW, it seems, for Capello, since he wants to go as far he can in this WC, rather than look to the future as well, which is what Ericsson was thinking, when he took Walcott with him last time, to get the young ones involved and ready for the future. Besides - what happens if Rooney gets hurt? We won't have ANY speed up front. What would you do then - put Gerrard up front where he doesn't want to be? We need that speed, and if you look at the likes of Messi and even Lennon - look how effective they are cutting in from the wings on the dribble. Walcott has that. It's a real shame, really.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'd say it's almost an act of cruelty to include someone in a 30 man squad and not play them at all in the two friendlies (unless you are Warnock of course).

    Forget the headline story, how Upson - a centre half from a nearly relegated team gets in and Dawson, who has by all account has had a great season is left behind, is difficult to fathom.

    The other cry is that some call ups are 'too early' for some players, in four years time perhaps we can go back to having "England B" games, where players on the periphery get some experience of the England set up. Trying to compare a player with dozens of games under their belt compared to one with one or two games is ridiculous - to exclude them because the manager is late in introducing them to the squad is equally so.

    The choices made today are at times at odds with Capello's motto of picking players in form and playing regularly for their clubs.

    Let's hope Capello pulls it off, one thing is for sure, the old guard need a kick up the backside, no excuses now it's time for you to shine, most are nearing their 30's - let's hope next time around it's better run than today.

  • Comment number 78.

    Whether you think Walcott should have been included or not, he is 21. To suggest his England career is over based on that alone, is a bit far fetched Phil!

    At their best, we have a world class centre back pairing, a world class, certainly european class, midfield pairing (depending which combination of Barry, Lampard and Gerard you use) and a world class striker in Rooney.

    With that core down the centre, we have the potential to make it to the quarter finals, if not the semi finals but Rooney aside, the rest of that list seems to pick and choose when to play well, usually only for their clubs.

  • Comment number 79.

    How Walcott is behind Wright-Phillips is beyond me.
    I can understand playing Lennon, due to Wlacott's injuries and lack of form, but he would have been a far better impact substitute than Wright-Phillips. I would even have preferred Johnson to Wright-Phillips, as does Mancini at Man city, it seems.

  • Comment number 80.

    It's nearly an hour and a half since I posted the first comment on this blog.

    WHAT A JOKE! ARE THE MODERATORS ASLEEP!

    BRING BACK ROBBO!!!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    I would love to post an on topic comment but the world cup will be over by the time my comment is moderated!!!
    Besides, it's probably already been said on the 80 comments above, which after an hour and a half... I still can't read!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    quite suprised that Capello picked Carrick even though his form has been quite poor recently. Lets hope he steps it up for the WC.
    Walcott always had pace but no end product means he will definately will miss this world cup. The good thing is that he has youth on his side

  • Comment number 83.

    The right decision and same with Johnson. Both are still very young and could do with being allowed to mature without the hysteria and over-expectation that surrounds Rooney (though he has borne it well, most wouldn't).
    After this world cup there'll be quite a few starting 11 midfield places up for grabs considering the ages of Lampard, Gerrard, J Cole, G Barry and even SWP so expect to see Walcott and Johnson both making the next WC squad when they're in their mid 20s and have been allowed to develop further.

  • Comment number 84.

    How does SWP get into the squad?

  • Comment number 85.

    As a Villa fan I'm happy to see three of our players going to the World Cup. Whatever Heskey's faults he brings a lot to the team and he deserves his chance to play in a World Cup after his role in the qualifying games.

    James Milner will probably be a utility/impact player for England, can't see him getting a starting berth. However, with luck, he could be this tournaments David Platt and explode onto the international stage, he certainly has it in him.

    Stephen Warnock's inclusion is a mystery to me. He is a good left back, very good even. But he's played six minutes at international level, and that was two years ago. His inclusion is as mystifying as Walcott's inclusion under Svenn four years ago.

    I fail to understand how Sean Wright Phillips' can be included in the final squad but Ashley Young completely ignored. Young is superior in every aspect of his game from his pace, his workrate through his ability to beat players and cross the ball.

    Quarter finals here we come.

  • Comment number 86.

    And this moderation policy does really have the effect of curbing debate. Given that we're approaching a world cup, and no doubt the rate of comments will be much higher than at other times, perhaps using reactive moderating is a better idea since it may stimulate and encourage debate? I don't think too many people are willing to wait ages for their comments to pass moderation, and therefore are unlikely to respond to any responses to their comments.

  • Comment number 87.

    The squad announcement probably wasn't disorganised within the camp and between Capello and the players. It just appears the sports journos are annoyed they were kept waiting longer than they wanted to be. That meant they all had a go at speculating at what was going on and it's left a few of them looking silly for getting it wrong. Why should the FA and Capello in particular bow down to what you journos want? Why shouldn't he decide what's announced and when? So rumours started to fly around regarding who was in and who was out, I don't think Capello should then change the schedule simply because sky sports news and the bbc's (ridiculous) live text start to get grumpy.

    Anyway enough of that little rant and onto the squad. For me the fact that Johnson has missed out is a bigger story than Walcott. We have 3 similar players in Lennon, Walcott and SWP so 1 or 2 of the 3 were always going to miss out. Personally I'd have rather taken Johnson than SWP as he offers something a bit different and seems to be improving pretty rapidly since arriving at Eastlands but his time will come. Carrick can consider himself extremely lucky to be going along and he needs to rediscover the form that took him from Spurs to Man Utd. I feel for Parker as I think he's a terrific player and personally I'd probably have taken him over Carrick but I think Capello's looked at who he wants as back-ups and he's gone more for experience. Except in the left back spot where once Bridge announced his international retirement it was always going to be an inexperienced back up for Ashley Cole.

    All in all the squad looks balanced and will hopefully do well, come on England!

    p.s. good modding guys, only taking you over an hour!

  • Comment number 88.

    "My own stated preference is for Gerrard to play just behind Rooney,"
    quick, someone tell Capello, the Messiah has spoken!

  • Comment number 89.

    "Capello's squad announcement carried a vaguely disorganised air, out of character with the Italian's meticulous attention to detail, with news of rumoured ins and outs appearing with such regularity that it was in danger of developing into some sort of World Cup hokey-cokey."

    I can't believe you are now blaming Capello for the all the rumours made up by the media - that would be you, Philip. It's like the Israelis blaming the aid workers for being on the ship and shot at.

  • Comment number 90.

    Walcott's young, he has time, and could very well (should very well) use this as huge motivation to improve his form and consistancy.

    And I'm saying that as an Arsenal fan of 17 years.

    It was ruthless, but pragmatic; Capello made the right call.

  • Comment number 91.

    Poor decision in my opinion! I dont think Walcott deserves a starting place but he would definitely have an impact on the tournament as a 'super sub'. His pace would give tired legged defenders an absolute knightmare late on in games, just as it did against Barcelona in the champions league, I feel Wright-Phillips (who lets be honest, will not start for England) would fail to have the same impact as Walcott.

  • Comment number 92.

    I have to say that although I agree with the majority of the exclusions from the squad, Capello's apparent distain for the four who did not play in the friendlies is verging on the disgraceful. He has treated them like naughty schoolboys on an outing rather than professional footballers (I know they're much the same thing). To ask Messrs Dawson, Parker et al to go and train with squad and not even allow them 20 minutes playing time is ill mannered and crass.

    I think Don Fabio should have taken a leaf out of Dungas book and announced his final 23 two weeks ago, that way moral is not damaged and the squad can legitimantly revel in the coaches confidence that they are without question the best squad the country has to offer. Instead we had three right winger fighting over two places, two medioce left backs competing for a reserve place and a centre half who spent the season fighting relegation and not playing to anywhere near a high enough standard to merit inculsion in a World Cup squad.

  • Comment number 93.

    Wenger fails to develop young talent?

    Say it isn't so!
    ===========================================================================

    I'm sorry, but this is an unnecessary remark. Just because Walcott hasn't developed at the rate at which most of us hoped doesn't automatically mean this is a failure on Wenger's part. Walcott has suffered from a series of frustrating injuries (especially to his shoulder) and this has limited first team opportunities, and with a lack of games, obviously his development as a player will be negatively affected. Moreover, the player himself has to take some responsibility for development and ensuring that his awareness and understanding of the game is improved upon.

    So, I feel it is fairly disgraceful that some people on the odious Talksport radio station are actually blaming Wenger for his lack of development, and even suggesting he leave the club to ensure his development doesn't stagnate. How on earth anyone can blame Arsenal and Wenger for Walcott's loss of form is beyond me. It's not our fault that he's been injured so much (neither is it his), nor can we be accused of failing to give him chances. When he's been fit, Wenger has given him plenty of opportunities. Just look up his appearance statistics this season and you'll realise this.

    I know it can be fashionable to blame Wenger for everything, and I understand that he has his faults and can be overly defensive at times, but in this case, he can take no blame for this, neither should Arsenal. I'm not saying Arsenal are discriminated against, nor do I have a persecution complex, but sometimes, it seems blaming our manager and our club is the easy but unfair option, and it is the option that some fans love to take.

  • Comment number 94.

    I agree with dropping walcott, would have had adam johnson instead of swp though.. Also would have picked dawson ahead of king for more reliable cover at centre back and I am completely baffled as to why scott parker didnt get a run out at all in the warm up games then dropped from the squad, it seems, without a second thought. I personally think he has been the best central midfielder in the country this year + would have been miles ahead of carrick as my choice of cover for barry (and no I aint a west ham fan) As it stands though I think it's a well balanced squad and hopefully we can stay injury free and have a right good go at winning the world cup. My first choice 11 from the players available would be Hart, G Johnson, A Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, Barry, Lampard, J Cole, Lennon, Gerrard + Rooney in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
    Now lets stop the criticism and get behind our country

  • Comment number 95.

    Hypocrite springs to mind. Tried and tested? Regularly playing for club side?....... Joe Cole, Emile Heskey and Warnock do not fit into those categories! Granted, Cole and Heskey have been in the England set up, but not played regularly for clubs and as for Warnock, Trinidad and Tobago May 2008 was his last game!! Joke!
    I think Everton's Baines and also Walcott were hard done by, they deserve to be there through sheer quality.

  • Comment number 96.

    Walcott has paid an extremely high price for 4 years of unwarranted media campaigns.

    I wonder whether he would be going now if, instead of going to Germany in 2006, he had gone on loan for two seasons a la Wilshere, before spending 2 seasons in the Arsenal first team?

    Less expectation as a teenager, greater freedom to make mistakes without constant media hatred and perhaps a more streamlined maturation of his skills and talent?

    Water under the bridge now.

    He must regroup and think carefully about how to rebuild, which hopefully will include a full season fit for Arsenal after a restful summer and a full pre-season training.

  • Comment number 97.

  • Comment number 98.

    With or without Walcott, this is not a World Cup team able to compete in
    South Africa. Apart from the lack of goal scoring potential the defense seems very vulnerable. Terry, as long as the ball is in front of him is a good player, but he is slow on the turn and when attackers get behind him is is dead in the water.
    The midfield may be adequate but not nearly as creative as it needs to be. Lampard is a ptential goal scorer if the midfield can keep the ball
    from the opposition.
    Scary is the goalkeeper. None of those selected are world class and James still cannot live down his "Calamity James" reputation.
    Hopefully, Capello can organize this inadequate roster into a match winning combination. Wishful thinking?

  • Comment number 99.

    That was a shock to me!
    I was pretty sure Lennon would go, but thought that it would be between Walcott & Johnson for the other place. I like SWP, but he's not exactly on form at the moment.
    Oh well! I still think we're going to do it!

  • Comment number 100.

    'Carrick is a lucky man. He has been in decline for the last 12 months at club level and wins his place on what he has done in the past as opposed to what he has done recently.

    The same applies to Aston Villa's Emile Heskey,'

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Heskey is rubbish, simple as. If your not even good enough for Aston Villa, how on earth did he get into england squad?

    Getting best out of Rooney, how??? It's no one-man team, and I feel against the big teams, we're certain to lack an attacking threat.

 

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