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Capello rewards Davies toil

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Phil McNulty | 18:13 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

Kevin Davies can forget Jamaica - that is unless he is planning a holiday in the Caribbean's "Land Of Wood and Water".

Bolton's 33-year-old striker, after finally giving up hope of an England career following years of long and honest toil in the Premier League, jokingly suggested recently that he might focus his international aspirations on Jamaica via his half-brother.

Davies has flirted with England's squad during his time at The Reebok, and just when he thought his chance had gone Fabio Capello has turned that flirtation into a full-on embrace with his most eye-catching selection for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley.

It is just reward for a career spent at the sharp end of English's football's combat zone, when too often Davies' status as the symbol of Bolton's direct style under Sam Allardyce disguised much of his natural ability from the public eye.

Of course Capello is indulging in blatant short-termism with his choice of Davies, rightly preferring him to Newcastle United's Andy Carroll to fill the gap left vacant by the absence of Jermain Defoe, Bobby Zamora and Gabriel Agbonlahor through injury and Emile Heskey's refusal to come out of international retirement.

While all the post-World Cup debacle talk of youth and building for the future is admirable, Capello needs players who can fulfil a purpose now and he clearly believes the evergreen Davies fits the bill.

Even though his selection may raise eyebrows among those who have trained their sights on what they regard as the more robust elements of Davies' approach - to which many a bruised defender can painfully testify - it is a perfectly practical choice by Capello.

Snobbery may cause some to be sniffy about his place in the squad, but if Heskey was celebrated by a succession of England coaches for his ability to aid the cause by holding the ball up, keeping defenders occupied by being a bit of a nuisance and chipping in with the occasional (make that very, very occasional) goal, then Davies is surely right up Capello's street.



Davies said in August that he had given up hope of earning an England call-up. Photograph: Getty

Davies is unlikely to be in the starting line-up, but as a fallback option he will provide Capello with muscle, guile, game experience and street wisdom should Montenegro prove durable opponents to break down. This is where his selection makes perfect sense.

One thing is certain, should Montenegro do some swift swatting up Davies via the odd dvd or two, they will know their Wembley experience will not be a comfortable one should he become involved in proceedings.

There is so much more than muscle to Davies, there is talent too. Whether this transmits itself comfortably to the England stage remains to be seen, but he should not feel out of place joining up with the squad.

And by picking Davies and ignoring Carroll's claims, Capello has made it clear he will not indulge flavours of the month in favour of the more pragmatic selection. As we have said before, the Italian makes his choices based on today not tomorrow.

Darren Bent appears to have won over Capello with his outstanding form for Sunderland and his first international goal in Switzerland. He has been talked up as an important figure in England's future, so he will hope to get the nod to start alongside Wayne Rooney, if he is fit.

Capello's squad contains plenty of intrigue elsewhere, not least with the recall of central defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and John Terry after injury. This presents a twim dilemma.

Everton's Phil Jagielka was a towering figure in the victories against Bulgaria at Wembley and in Switzerland. He has done all he could to be retained and Capello has made a point of singling him out more than once.

Jagielka should keep his place, meaning one of the old guard must miss out. Which brings us neatly on to the subject of whether Ferdinand will reclaim the captain's armband from Steven Gerrard.

In my opinion, as I stated after the win in Basle, Gerrard must stay as captain after impressing everybody on and off the field as a leader and spokesman.

Liverpool's appalling start to the season should not impact on Capello's choice. Ferdinand has yet to prove he can stay fit for the long haul and, as with Jagielka, the man who has done the job so well should stay in place.

If it is good enough for Sir Alex Ferguson to take the honour off Ferdinand at Manchester United because of his dubious fitness record, then surely it is good enough for Capello and England.

Joe Cole, and I am an ardent admirer of Liverpool's midfielder, can count himself hugely fortunate to win a recall having produced little worthy of merit since leaving Chelsea for Anfield.

West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green's rehabilitation after his World Cup blunder against the United States in Rustenburg continues with his recall, while Jack Wilshere's growing maturity is underlined by Capello including him in the full squad, even though he is also in England's party for the Under-21 Championship play-off first leg against Romania at Norwich on Friday.

Adam Johnson's form, despite Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini's alleged reservations about his lifestyle off the pitch, deserves to get him the vote to play with Theo Walcott injured and James Milner suspended.

Capello has options for the flanks with Aaron Lennon recalled and Joe Cole also able to fill in on the left. Shaun Wright-Phillips is again fortuitously selected, so he may figure also.

And the one thing these wide players, who also include Aston Villa's Ashley Young, know is that if they can deliver quality supply into the area, in the veteran Davies they have man who is more than capable of capitalising on it.

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