With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rapidly approaching, managers of the national teams involved are getting increasingly closer to the date where they must submit the 23 players they have selected. There are numerous question marks still surrounding those who will go to the tournament for England. Players such as Cleverley and Smalling are being criticised for being included in previous squads, whilst there are huge calls for former captain John Terry to come out of international retirement to make the trip to South America. These calls are not without substance, and here are some key reasons why Roy Hodgson should be personally knocking John Terry’s door down.
– Ready made partnership with Gary Cahill
Chelsea have been solid at the back this season, conceding only 23 goals in the Premier League so far. That is the best of any team in the league, and has undoubtedly come from Jose Mourinho’s decision to adopt Terry & Cahill as his first choice pairing, moving David Luiz into a defensive-midfield role. If England are to come out of the tricky draw they’re faced with in Group D, they must hit the ground running. Heading into a World Cup opener against the formidable Italians, Hodgson cannot afford any settling in period for any of his first eleven. If Cahill were to be paired with his Chelsea teammate Terry, it would certainly raise his game to the standards we’ve seen this season. Cahill has often been praised for his defensive abilities, however, there is an opinion surrounding his game that he requires a natural leader to really bring out the best in him. The irony of the situation being, if Terry weren’t to come back into the fold, it would likely be Cahill who is looked upon as the leader of central defence. When coming into tournament football it is all about getting results, the team has to be ready from the first whistle, and all question marks over the two centre-backs’ familiarity would be eliminated if it were to be Terry & Cahill lining up against Italy. That could prove crucial to Hodgson when his team already face an uphill struggle to reach the knockout stages.
– Lack Of Quality Alternatives
Roy Hodgson has been scrutinising the talents of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Steven Caulker, and Ryan Shawcross in his recent squad selections. Only one of which, Phil Jagielka, has been playing regularly for a side in the top six of the Premier League. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones should count themselves lucky England fans haven’t given them the same disregard as their teammate Tom Cleverley, as their performances this season have been appalling and neither should be anywhere near a starting spot for England. Joleon Lescott has been consistently overlooked for Manchester City this season, and his only realistic chance of boosting his credentials were dashed when he failed to secure a move in the January transfer window. Steven Caulker is probably the most in-form of those mentioned above, outside of Jagielka. On the other hand, he’s the least tested on the international stage, and he is part of a team which linger just off the bottom of the table and that isn’t exactly ideal preparation. Phil Jagielka is undoubtedly the leading candidate to pair up with Gary Cahill if Terry weren’t to come back into the fold.
– Candidates Not Like They Used To Be
The harsh reality for Roy Hodgson is, the national pool does not have quality in abundance for any position, especially in central defence. It wouldn’t be in the extreme to say that this is actually the worst choice of central defenders an England manager has faced in a very long time. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were solid throughout the mid to late 00’s, immovable names from the first eleven for long periods before both retired from England duties. Before that Sol Campbell, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, and Gareth Southgate are just a few names of many to mention. Hodgson doesn’t have those luxuries at his disposal.
– The Need For A Natural Leader
With Ashley Cole likely to lose his place to Leighton Baines as England’s first choice left-back, and question marks over who will play right back, there is a real shortage of defensive leaders. With the possibility of a Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Johnson/Walker back four, only Jagielka is a captain for their club, and with all due respect it is not for one of the ‘top four’. Jagielka has never played Champions League football, never captained his country, and it would be hugely demanding for him to be expected to lead and organise a defence against the world’s best. Cahill has been afforded the luxury of lining up alongside John Terry for Chelsea for majority of this season; he has learnt from him and improved his game dramatically, however, he still noticeably relies upon the organisation, and leadership skills John Terry possesses. If Cahill were to partner with Jagielka, England may not be given the time for the pair to find their feet, lose to Italy in the opening game, and it already becomes last chance saloon against Uruguay.
Although Terry has had numerous problems surrounding his England career in the past, largely with the FA, he is still England’s best defender, greatest organiser, and most importantly someone who will always put his body on the line for the greater cause. With a spine of Hart, Terry, Gerrard, and Rooney, there is a leader in each department, not such a gaping hole of inexperience surrounds the defence, and enough players who have had outstanding seasons for their club to come into the fold such as Henderson, and Sturridge. If Hodgson can persuade Terry to board the plane to Brazil, things may just fall into place for the England manager, it is no guarantee for success, but, it is much more likely than if we are faced with the alternatives.