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The Libero - Dawson deserves his chance to upstage Terry

Published: 21 Apr 2010 - 07:09:35

England coach Fabio Capello has repeatedly indicated that when it comes to selecting his 23-man squad for the World Cup, he is only interested in the current form and fitness of players, and not any reputation that may precede them.

We can only assume, then, that John Terry will not be on the plane to South Africa this summer.

The Chelsea captain was simply awful against Tottenham at the weekend as he put in a performance that was leaden-footed, error-strewn and entirely unbefitting of a player who should be an automatic starter in Capello's first XI.

Indeed, on Saturday's evidence, Terry should not even be in Capello's 23-man squad. Time and again he was exposed by Tottenham's fleet-footed attackers. Time and again, he misjudged the flight of the ball. Time and again, his lack of awareness resulted in him bringing his man down.

Terry could easily have been the recipient of four yellow cards, yet he still managed to argue the toss after his second bookable offence in the space of three minutes had referee Phil Dowd reaching for red.

Factor in the inevitable taunting from the home crowd, Chelsea's defeat - a result that may yet prove crucial in the title race - and a reported bust-up with a Spurs fan, and it all made for a thoroughly forgettable day for Terry.

Despite his bicep-bulging, armband-wearing, mohican-sporting, fist-pumping - not to mention goalscoring - performances in the immediate aftermath of the Wayne Bridge saga, Terry's game has clearly been affected. If not necessarily by any deep soul searching about his varying degrees of betrayal, then certainly by the negative attention it has attracted from the press.

Put simply, he has not been the same player since the story broke. A few defiant performances aside, Terry's mind has been elsewhere and clearly his concentration has suffered, not least at White Hart Lane.

And for a player with the small matters of a title challenge, an FA Cup final and a World Cup to think about it is, at best, a problematic situation and one of concern for both his club and international managers. At worst, it could spell disaster for Chelsea and England.

Contrast Terry with his opposite number from Saturday, Michael Dawson, who seems to be coming into form at just the right time.

When faced with the mighty Didier Drogba at White Hart Lane, the former Spurs defender cannot have failed to impress the watching Capello with a display that oozed class and confidence. And as regular watchers of Spurs will tell you, that's not the first time this season Dawson has shone. Not by a long stretch.

Capello could do worse than take a look at Dawson in the friendly against Mexico - at the very least. If he is still in good form, then why not take him to South Africa?

And given Terry's woes, not to mention Rio Ferdinand's fitness concerns, why couldn't he push for a starting place?

Dawson is injury-free, scandal-free and in the form of his life. He's probably England's best central defender at this point in time and if Capello really has no respect for reputations, it would come as no surprise to see him replace Terry with Dawson.

And of course, that way any potential dressing room splits caused by the scandal would be avoided and the door for Wayne Bridge to make a sensational return would be well and truly open. It's a no-brainer, isn't it?

READ THE LIBERO EVERY WEDNESDAY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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