, ENG­LAND S STRIK­ING DILEMMA

to re­place the in­jured Theo Wal­cott CHRIS DUNLAVY con­sid­ers who Roy Hodg­son could con­sider

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - Eng­land -

AN­OTHER World Cup, an­other chance to kick Theo Wal­cott. Af­ter be­ing taken on work ex­pe­ri­ence by Sven Go­ranEriks­son in 2006 and axed in the fi­nal cut by Fabio Capello in 2010, the 24-year-old has now knack­ered his cru­ci­ate, mean­ing he has yet to even kick a ball at foot­ball’s big­gest party.

It’s a sav­age blow for poor Theo, who had been bang in form for Ar­se­nal and fi­nally seems to be play­ing with a con­fi­dence to match his un­doubted men­ace. He’s also – weirdly – shaken off the me­dia train­ing and be­come rel­a­tively en­gag­ing, at least com­pared to the aver­age Match of the Day drivel spouter.

But Theo’s loss is some­body else gain. With prob­a­bly four for­ward spots avail­able for Brazil, there’s now a place on the plane go­ing free.Who should take it? We look at the run­ners and rid­ers:

THE CER­TAIN­TIES WAYNE ROONEY MANCH­ESTER UNITED CAPS: 88 GOALS: 38

RIGHT Wayne, you’re go­ing. So how about turn­ing up this time? Bro­ken toes, Ve­gas booze-ups, tabloid scan­dal, daft sus­pen­sions – Rooney has had plenty of ex­cuses for his fail­ure to per­form on the big­gest stage for Eng­land.

But the cold fact is that Rooney has net­ted just one tour­na­ment goal in ten years for Eng­land and that is a rank bad record for some­one of his tal­ent. Lit­tle won­der that Fabio Capello once said, “Rooney only plays well in Manch­ester”.

If Hodg­son can get Rooney play­ing with con­fi­dence and dis­ci­pline, he clearly has the skill to con­trol a game. But un­less he can curb the frus­tra­tion that creeps in when more skil­ful op­po­nents dom­i­nate Eng­land – and they will – Rooney will once more spend the sum­mer chas­ing round the pitch like a fat, red, sweaty Brit abroad.

At 28, he will never again grace a World Cup in peak fit­ness. If he wants a legacy be­yond these shores, now is the time to step up and stop strop­ping around.

DANIEL STUR­RIDGE LIVER­POOL CAPS: 9 GOALS: 2

Frus­trat­ing? Yes. Un­pre­dictable? Def­i­nitely. But what Stur­ridge pos­sesses – far more than any other player in this list – is pomp and swag­ger.

The Liver­pool striker plays like he’s the most skil­ful kid in the play­ground, even when that play­ground con­tains the fab­u­lously tal­ented Luis Suarez.

He’ll at­tempt a trick, take on a man, go for a screamer or a cheeky chip. It doesn’t al­ways come off but he has the con­fi­dence and tech­nique to try, a sense of ad­ven­ture that Eng­land have al­ways lacked on the big stage.

With Rooney guar­an­teed to drop deep, the

Liver­pool man is likely to start the tour­na­ment as Eng­land’s main striker; his abil­ity to link play (ask Suarez, scorer of 22 goals so far) could even see the two in­ter­change. Fancy eh?

THE CON­TENDERS ANDY CAR­ROLL WEST HAM CAPS: 9 GOALS: 2

RE­MEM­BER that mo­ment against Swe­den in Euro 2012 when Car­roll, hair fly­ing, face mus­cles tensed, soared sky­wards to meet Steven Ger­rard’s cross?

As the ball thumped into the net with Car­roll still seem­ingly sus­pended 15 feet in the air, we were re­minded again that no­body in Eng­land – per­haps the world – can head a ball like the West Ham striker.

But you can only head a ball if you are on the pitch and the sub­se­quent 18 months have seen the 25-year-old (yes, he’s not even that young any­more), man­age just 26 games.

Now fit again af­ter a foot prob­lem, Car­roll is no­to­ri­ously slow to re­cover and will have to com­plete his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in a side bat­tling rel­e­ga­tion.

And when you con­sider that a) Eng­land’s wingers are crap at cross­ing and b) the far more rounded Lam­bert is also de­cent in the air, it seems a point­less risk.

DANNY WEL­BECK MANCH­ESTER UNITED CAPS: 20 GOALS: 8

WEL­BECK has taken a lot of stick and when you score one goal in 27 games for a team who won the ti­tle – as United did last year – it’s easy to see why.

But the 23-year-old has plenty go­ing for him. Un­like many English strik­ers, the ball tends to stick and he rarely con­cedes pos­ses­sion – an in­valu­able com­mod­ity at big tour­na­ments.

Stur­ridge and Rooney

Danny Wel­beck scoresAndy Car­roll’s Euro 2012 header

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