Comment - Cahill is the right choice for England's future
Published : 07 Sep 2010 06:44:53
Thomas Hyde looks at the two candidates to partner Phil Jagielka in England's defence against Switzerland, and finds heavily in favour of a player with just one cap to his name.
Who would have thought that the race to be England’s fifth choice centre-back would be so significant?
One game into the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and Fabio Capello finds the issue very much on his agenda ahead of the trip to Switzerland.
In the absence of injured trio Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Michael Dawson, Capello's defensive headache is back with a vengeance.
Matthew Upson was the chosen remedy at the World Cup, after Ledley King and Jamie Carragher came and went, and is an option once more.
While new kid on the block Gary Cahill is the latest to offer an alternative therapy.
The Bolton defender's initial promotion to the substitutes' bench, at the expense of Upson, and his subsequent debut England appearance on Friday, logically makes him the frontrunner to partner Phil Jagielka.
But Capello's increasingly enigmatic management philosophy has a tendency to materialise with an apparent absence of rhyme or reason; Upson could yet be applied to the problematic area just as he was in South Africa.
The West Ham captain remains confident in his ability to step into the breach. To the extent that he felt it necessary to confront the FA, demanding an explanation as to why he was only offered a seat on the Wembley terraces while his England colleagues recorded an impressive 4-0 triumph over Bulgaria.
With regard to experience, Upson's case is a strong one. The 31-year-old has 21 England caps to his name and played a key role in England's prolific qualifying campaign for South Africa.
But Upson's shortcomings were brutally exposed under the World Cup spotlight, allowing a rampant Germany side to inflict a record defeat on England and dump them out of the tournament.
Sluggishness, naivety and ineptitude were all crimes of football held against Upson in the aftermath of South Africa, and his value has dipped further as a result of West Ham's hopeless start to the Premier League season.
Upon return Upson was omitted completely from the England squad to face friendly opponents Hungary, and banished to the stands on Friday.
At 24 years of age, Cahill has been patient in his quest to break into the England squad and should be rewarded with his first start against the Swiss.
Three years of consistent excellence at the heart of Bolton's backline has not gone unnoticed by managers from the upper echelons of the Premier League and Capello has seemingly decided that the time has come to board the bandwagon.
Opting for Cahill would also reinforce the Italian's newfound faith in the nation's youth and if the Bolton man can make even half the impact that Joe Hart has, that would at least serve to prevent this headache from becoming a migraine.