Even before Fabio Capello was sacked as England manager in the New Year there were clouds hanging over experienced players such as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Gareth Barry that Euro 2012 might well be their scene of their International swansong, what with another so-called ‘golden generation’ of players waiting to come through.
When Roy Hodgson was appointed as England manager in May, understandably those four players, three of whom had had good seasons (the Chelsea duo and Barry) were included in the original 23-man squad for the Euros, a tournament which for once England were not listed as one of the favourites.
Sadly for both Lampard and Barry, two players who may not have been guaranteed-starters, they have been ruled out of the tournament with thigh and stomach problems respectively leaving many fans and critics wondering if this could well be the end of their England careers.
Lampard at 34, has probably had his best years behind him. Despite coming of another good season where he scored 16 goals, certain aspects of his game have changed. He can no longer burst into the box and hurt teams in the way that he did so often in his prime which arguably came in 2004-2008 but he can still pass the ball and control a game, something that the inexperienced players in the squad perhaps cannot do.
For Barry on the other hand it’s a bigger blow than it is for Lampard who has competed in three major tournaments (2 World Cup’s and a European Championship) to the Manchester City man’s one tournament. Barry perhaps unfairly was labelled one of the scapegoats for England’s embarrassing 2010 World Cup showing after a poor performance in the second round 4-1 defeat against Germany.
With England 3-1 down in that game, Barry is remembered for being outpaced by Mesut Ozil in the build-up for the German’s fourth goal that night scored by Arsenal’s summer recruit Lukas Podolski. It was a sad sight for Barry who was seen lagging behind Ozil despite having a 10-yard advantage to the ball when it broke to him.
Euro 2012 was meant to be the chance for Barry to at least put some wrongs right and show England fans that he deserves every one of his 50+ International caps and that he can produce match-winning valuable performances when called upon which is something that Manchester City fans would back up over the last three seasons.
Hodgson will now have to do without two of England’s most experienced midfielders and now seems certain that Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker will start in central-midfield. Should either of them pick up a niggle against Belgium on Saturday and be ruled out for the Euros, it will leave England with a major problem.
Jordan Henderson lacks the experience to start for England and after a difficult first-season at Liverpool, the critics may argue that he lacks the class and power to do so and would get outmuscled by better players. Phil Jones could be an option although he’s a much better defender. James Milner could be moved into the middle but he’s more effective out-wide and if he were to be switched inside, it would mean a change in tactics.
That all leads back to possibly a recall for Michael Carrick if either Parker or Gerrard were to be ruled out, who would now stand a chance of playing instead of being on the bench. Would the Manchester United man answer a second call from Hodgson. Let’s hope for England’s sake that no more injuries occur. Wrap ‘erm up in cotton wool Roy!
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87