For the past two years, England have had huge problems at centre back, with no single partnership nailing down the position. In the recent past there have been a plethora of talented centre backs, with Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Sol Campbell regulars in the team. Those three were so good that Jamie Carragher never had a sustained run in the national side, while injuries prevented Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King from becoming regulars for England, both of whom were very talented. Now we only have Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill who can be considered certainties for Brazil. Joleon Lescott rarely features for Manchester City, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been inconsistent for Manchester United. Two of the better centre backs this season have been Steven Caulker and Mike Williamson, and the former has a chance of making it to Brazil, but the latter won’t even be on Hodgson’s radar. With the lack of in form English centre backs, surely Terry has to be brought back into the England set up.
In the fifteen league matches that Terry has started alongside Cahill, Chelsea have kept seven clean sheets, while in the other seven league matches, Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet. This shows the strength of the English pair and their partnership at Stamford Bridge – which would continue for England if they both start in Brazil. It’s rare for two English centre backs to build a partnership at a big Premier League club so Hodgson should take full advantage of the Chelsea pair, especially as they are third in the league and showing they can compete at the highest level. Terry has won lots of trophies at Chelsea, while Cahill was part of the side that beat Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League. This is experience at the highest level that Jagielka and Lescott simply don’t possess. When you add in club team-mate, Ashley Cole, Hodgson could have three of Chelsea’s back four starting this summer. That’s a platform that would allow England to push on in the tournament.
The Chelsea captain has started all 22 league matches this campaign, showing his fitness and desire to continue playing at the top of the English game. Jose Mourinho’s men are strongest when they have both Terry and Cahill at centre back. The pair have conceded an average of 0.87 goals per match in their 15 starts together, while in the other seven games, Chelsea conceded an average of a goal per match when David Luiz partnered Terry. The former England captain has won 66% of ground 50-50s, 69% of aerial 50-50s and has a 70% tackle success from twenty tackles. He is bettered in all three by Cahill who has won 72% of ground 50-50s, 76% of aerial 50-50s and has won 80% of his fifteen tackles. There is no doubt that playing alongside Terry brings out the best in Cahill, so it’s difficult for Hodgson to ignore the Chelsea captain despite his problems in the past.
The return of Jose Mourinho has restarted Terry’s career. Last season he was very much a back up member of the squad under Rafa Benitez, but the Portuguese manager knows how to get the best out of his captain. Both Chelsea central defenders are threatening at set pieces too, with Terry scoring twice this season and Cahill netting once. While they have also both assisted one goal this campaign. The pair would also bring a winning mentality as a partnership, which would certainly have a positive effect on the rest of the squad. The media have often criticised the English players for not bringing their club form to the international stage, but that could be rectified if a club partnership is picked for England.
England are going to face a difficult task getting out of their group, with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica all capable of beating Hodgson’s men. The England manager needs to pick the best possible squad available, even if recalling Terry will cause controversy after his actions in the past. If he has a straight choice between Terry and Jagielka to face the Uruguayan strike force of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan, there is only one winner, hopefully Hodgson is brave enough to bring the defender back into the fold.
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