Filed: Wednesday, 5th May 2010
By: Nick Robbins
With the season in the bag now and security assured for another season at least, thoughts turn to the summer - and with it the World Cup.
Since 1990 West Ham has sent just four players to the World Cup for England (this does not include ex-players; though we know the debt of gratitude our country owes our youth system) but in 2010 there could be four West Ham players making the squad.
Here, each of the playersí respective claims is put forward, and their likelihood of making the plane to Rustenberg assessed.
Rob Green (GK)
Despite suffering the ignominy of being the first English goalkeeper to be sent off, Green has held down the No. 1 shirt with reasonable success. His performances in an England shirt have been perfectly adequate and he has done nothing to suggest that he isnít capable of playing at international standard. However, he has equally not nailed down his position as first choice, and speculation still mounts as to who will pull on that jersey in the opening match against the USA.
Greenís form at West Ham has again been perfectly fine, playing behind a shaky back four that has been consistently chopped and changed can never be easy but Green has done a good job at keeping West Ham ticking this season. He seems to have cut down on the larger, game changing mistakes that used to plague him, but doubts still remain about his ability under crosses and his distribution can be a little wayward. Mentally however, he is a much improved player, and he has injected some much needed passion into the team.
I would safely say that Green will be with the squad in South Africa come the start of the World Cup, though whether this is as first choice I cannot say.
Likelihood of making squad: 10/10
Matthew Upson (DF)
Nominally West Ham captain, Upson has endured an up and down season with the Hammers. Age is perhaps catching up to the ex-Arsenal league winner and while pace was never his strong point, he is being more and more often caught out in this respect. Not the most comfortable on the ball either but he can pop up with the odd goal from set pieces. He has been an ever-present in Capelloís squads and has found himself as third choice behind the relatively settled partnership of Terry and Ferdinand.
The centre back dilemma has not been solved for England though with recent calls for Ledley King or Michael Dawson to make the squad shows that Upsonís position is not assured. Though West Ham have been down the bottom of the table, their goal difference shows that defensively they have not been embarrassingly leaky, but it cannot help Upsonís chances that West Ham have been involved in a relegation scrap. Chances are Upson will make the squad, but again, his position in the starting XI seems highly unlikely.
With the late season form of Dawson his position as 3rd choice CB may be threatened as well. Expect Upson to make the squad but see little to no game time barring any injuries.
Likelihood of making squad: 9/10
Scott Parker (CM)
Hammer of the Year, captain in all but name, Scott Parker has been the bright spark of the season for West Ham. It would be no shock to any West Ham fans if Parker could force his way into Capelloís reckoning. It is unlikely that Capello would be able to find a more committed nor passionate player for his squad. Parker has come alive this season with the extra responsibility, never shirking from a challenge and linking play expertly. He could be the perfect fit to play in the Gareth Barry role, sitting slightly back from a more attackive minded CM.
Though Parker has been out of international reckoning for a while, his form, combined with being virtually an ever-present for West Ham this season, barring suspension, mean he fulfils many of Capelloís quotas for being eligible for England. In recent squads, see Brazil, Capello has preferred to try youngsters out in this role such as Tom Huddlestone, but when thinking about the World Cup experience is more important than this and it is here where Parkerís credentials excel. He has played at the very top of the game, and in relegation scraps. He also has some international experience, though only winning three caps he has been in many more squads.
As a West Ham supporter I can think of no player who deserves a shot at the World Cup more than Parker, but it could be a case of the heart over-ruling the head. Donít rule this out however.
Likelihood of making squad: 3/10
Carlton Cole (ST)
Coleís early season form was seen as somewhat of a renaissance for the powerful striker. He confounded many of his critics pretty much carrying the Hammersí strikeforce on his own. However, injury and a late season loss of form have seen his international stock fall somewhat. Cole has figured in Capelloís plans before but faces stiff competition to make it into his World Cup squad. On paper it seems that Cole could be the perfect foil to Rooney, seemingly Englandís only guaranteed starter. He is quick and strong with the ability to hold the ball up as well moving into the channels. He is also more of a goal threat than Heskey and a more direct runner than Crouch. Lacking the clinical edge of Defoe he has the advantage of height and aerial ability here.
However, this lack of form and a goalless stream (at least into the right net) is worrying. It seems that perhaps he is still carrying a slight niggle or has failed to fully shake off the injury that ruled him out earlier this year. Question marks still remain over his international pedigree and other strikers in the Premiership have done more throughout the course of the whole season to justify their inclusion in Englandís World Cup squad. With Capello favouring a Heskey-Rooney partnership with Defoe and Crouch his impact subs Coleís position in the squad seems in danger.
It depends whether Capello wants more cover for his squad or a more dangerous impact type player in an Agbonlahor or Walcott mode. At the moment however it seems that Carlton Cole may be at home for the summer.
Likelihood of making squad: 4/10
As much as West Ham fans would like to see their team represented at the World Cup this summer it is perhaps most likely that we will see two of current players in the squad, though neither of their position in the starting line up is guaranteed.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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