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Robbo's England World Cup squad

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Robbo Robson | 12:19 UK time, Thursday, 15 October 2009

It's been a weird one for England fans. We've got used to grabbing the early bar-stool and watching our knuckles turn white on the pint glass as we pray for divine intervention to see us through to another long summer - or not as the case may be.

Instead you've had the odd spectacle of England players and pundits muttering wryly about the prospects of Mad-Dog Maradona's Argentine beefcakes falling short and the first World Cup since 1970 being shorn of the lankest hairdos in sport.

They got through, though - some other hand of God pushing the little man's ramshackle squad to a 1-0 in Uruguay.

We have had Wazza suggesting that Portugal - and in particular the little winker - might not make it either.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne RooneyRooney and Ronaldo - best of enemies
There is also talk, terrible tournament-rigging talk, of introducing seedings to the European play-offs. Presumably this is to ensure the Gelled Tumbler's presence in South Africa. It's crass. If you're not up to qualifying direct then you get what you're given in the play-offs. Up the Irish, whoever they play.

Belarus at home didn't tell us much that we didn't already know. England are perfectly capable of playing 15 minutes of hopeless football in every game.

There wasn't much goal threat from the Belarussians which is fortunate 'cos we let them have the ball for long enough to find out. There were times when we could barely string one pass together.

Crouchy continues to be great value. He is that footballing cliché 'something different'. I'm a Crouch convert (which sounds more like some over-revealing yoga position but you get my meaning).

Becks looked like he's still got a bit to offer. He also looked like a shabby X-Men stunt double, mind. And the drooling on commentary was downright unctuous. He traps a long ball first time - 'instant control by Beckham'.

It's a football match not a beauty contest, mate! He's an international! It shouldn't be hard for him to trap a ball and pass it accurately. Although that rather suggests that Shaun Wright-Philips shouldn't be on the pitch.

ITV continue to prove there's no point in having a current England international in the pundit's seat. What do they think they're going to get from Owen Hargreaves exactly?

What we really wanted him to say was: "Oh, that Becks is past it, Barry's having a 'mare and Carrick's a right shrinking violet at international level. What they need is a tough-tackling Canadian-born German lad with a British passport to play the holding role." But of course he didn't.

Any road it's time we, the pub-frequenting true experts on English football, started putting our squads together. Check out fellow-blogger Phil McNulty's here if you haven't already.

The keepers will have to be Green and James. I'd go for Joe Hart as the third. Foster did fine on Wednesday night but once Van der Sar returns, young Ben will be back on the bench icing the latest Owen tweak and he won't be ready.

The back four'll be Johnson, Rio, Terry and Cashley for certain. After that it's a bit of a lottery but you need a bit of flexibility in there and so Wes Brown and Lescott should go. Plus Upson, unless the likes of Woodgate and King are able to pick up their beds and walk.

Midfielders sure to go are Gerrard, Lampard and Barry. The right side of midfield is looking more cluttered than a lass's wardrobe. (I urged my missus to get shot of some of her clobber this week so we can use the space for something useful like a snooker room - sure enough stuff I've not seen in years is currently being worn around the house.)

Becks will go. He was man of the match after all. Capello compared it to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. I remember that Judi Dench getting an Oscar for appearing in a film for about 10 minutes 'n all. Barmy.

Then it's a toss-up between the identikit speed merchants, Lennon and SWP. Tiny, lightning-fast and more likely to find a cul-de-sac than my useless flaming sat-nav, which has one of them soothing women's voices that just makes you want to screech at it. I swear it once said to me, in that emotionless purr, "Why don't you just wind down the window and ask somebody?"

Me, I'd go for Lennon. Wright-Philips is the only player I know who can have dips in form during a match. If Joe Cole gets fit he has to go, too.

So you're left with another holding midfielder and someone who can play left side. I wouldn't pick Downing. He's done nowt since he left the Boro. Yes, I know he's been injured, but that's no excuse. Let's face it, there are more cultured left feet in your average chiropodist's than you'll find pulling on a boot for England.

Milner looks a good bet. Then it's Carrick or Hargreaves. I'd like the latter. He can do a job at right-back too and Carrick is too often a paper swan - he looks elegant enough but there's not much there and he floats out of the picture all too easily.

Up front, that Rooney fella might just go - crikey he looked a good player on Saturday night. Then Defoe and Crouch. After that it's anyone's guess.
Emile HeskeyWill he or won't he?
Heskey's obviously a good lad to play with, but you do foresee a moment when it's a minute to go, he's clean through with just the keeper to beat and the lad plummets to the earth like Devon Loch and we all ask where the hell Carlton Cole's got to.

Agbonlahor has that combination of frightening pace and dodgy first touch, but he's a great worker. And Walcott can look like either Sea The Stars or a donkey tethered to a post.

But my mind is made up:
Green, James, Hart; Johnson, Brown, Rio, JT, Upson, Lescott, Cashley; Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Beckham, J. Cole, Lennon, Hargreaves, Milner; Rooney, Heskey, Crouch, Defoe, Walcott.

Now lads, keep your heads down, your wives quiet and your metatarsals wrapped in cotton wool. Especially you Wazza. Especially you.


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