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Joe Strange - Carroll set for career-defining England bow

Published: 16 Nov 2010 - 12:35:09

I don't like Fabio Capello. His tactics are outdated, his man management, questionable and his approach, old fashioned. His squad selections always cause controversy, he refusues to give up on Emile Heskey and he's on a frankly ludicrous £6 million-a-year salary.

As you can probably tell, he's not my favourite person. And that's without even getting started on the World Cup.

But if I had to single out one of Fabio's more astute decisions of the last couple of years, it would have to be the recent inclusion of Andy Carroll in the squad to face France tomorrow evening.

To be honest Capello didn't really have much say in whether or not to give Carroll his senior bow. The Newcastle forward has been in such superb form over the last 18 months - banging in the goals and dominating defences - that the Italian's hand was almost forced into picking him.

And I for one couldn't be happier. England have been crying out for a regular partner for Wayne Rooney for the last five years and if anyone fits the bill then it's Carroll. He's big, strong and great in the air. He holds the ball up well and scares defences with his physical presence.

He scores goals and creates them for others. He's the perfect 'big man' to 'little man' Rooney. For Capello, he could finally be the man to make 4-4-2 a viable, match-winning formation.

With seven Premier League goals to his name already this season, Carroll has made the transition from prolific Championship striker to top-flight star with ease. He appears to relish testing himself against the best players in the country and has won many admirers in the process.

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has already announced himself as a fan of the Geordie front-man, leading to widespread speculation about a move away from St James' Park. But for now Carroll remains a local hero and the talisman behind the Magpies' impressive start to life back in the big time.

He would be wise to stay in the north-east for a while longer, where first-team football, an excellent manager and an adoring fanbase will undoubtedly help him continue to grow and develop as both a player and a person.

And it's off the field that Carroll could do with the most help. At just 21 years old he's already been in more scrapes with the law than most people have in a lifetime. Most recently he was accused of attacking an ex-girlfriend and was forced to move in with club captain Kevin Nolan.

While his personal problems need to be resolved if he is to fulfil his vast potential, Carroll has not taken them with him when turning out for his boyhood club. His form has been consistently good, pointing to a strong mental capacity underneath the bad-boy image.

If he can get his life back on track away from football and concentrate on a game he was clearly born to play then expect Carroll to become a regular fixture in England's starting XI over the coming years.

He could well be the answer to Capello's prayers, and ours.

FOLLOW JOE ON TWITTER @joe_strangeDSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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