Comment - Capello must save goalkeeping crisis
With less than eight months before the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it would be more than comforting to know that Fabio Capello has a little notepad at home with his 23 man squad and starting eleven neatly written down.
Unfortunately for the sanity of England fans, I very much doubt that is the case.
With just a few more friendlies to go before the big kick-off, Fabio still seems to be a little bit clueless about who will be jetting off to Johannesburg and who will sunning themselves on holiday in the Caribbean.
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Obviously there are some players who already have their travel insurance booked, the likes of Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard and Terry to name but a few.
Then there are the maybes; Brown, Young and Carlton Cole spring to mind.
And finally the unlucky few that look to have kissed goodbye to that elusive golden ticket; Jenas, Wright-Phillips and unthinkably, Michael Owen.
The Italian still has time to fine-tune the players he will be putting so much faith in come next summer – to assemble a squad full of strength in depth, one which will give England the much-needed options and versatility should injuries or poor form hamper chances of progression to the knock-out rounds.
He might not have many games left to tinker with formations and tactics but the former Juventus boss has endless invitations to see his players in action up and down the country, giving him the chance to assess both ability and form as the season draws to a close and World Cup fever takes over.
But there's one position which must have given Capello some sleepless nights over the last few months and in the process, left one seemingly unanswerable question in his head – who is England's number one?
On paper it would appear that David James, Ben Foster and Robert Green are his preferred choices to fill the three goalkeeper-shaped voids in the squad but with James struggling for fitness, Foster third-choice at Manchester United and Green's West Ham languishing in the bottom three, Fabio is hardly spoilt for choice.
Portsmouth stopper James has the international experience and despite his advancing years, the quality, to pull on the gloves next summer, but he has not started a game for his country since April and is now suffering with a Ledley King-esque knee injury meaning he cannot train for two days after playing.
Foster may have put in an improved display against Brazil at the weekend but he still conspired to give away a penalty and is now third in the pecking order at United after a series of high-profile errors, most noticeably against Manchester City and Sunderland.
Green looked to have made the jersey his own under Capello but a red card away in Ukraine has reopened the door for his two rivals. His club form has been mixed to say the least, often mixing the sublime and ridiculous within the space of 90 minutes.
This is a problem that Capello needs to get sorted as soon as possible. With limited games left for his starting eleven to play together and develop a much-needed winning mentality, he needs to decide on a keeper and stick with him. It's no good chopping and changing every other game – the back four need to know who is behind them and develop a confidence and understanding with their last line of defence.
He might have a cool, hard man exterior but if he lets his goalkeeper issue drag on much longer, we could see Capello as nervous as an England player stepping up for another quarter-final penalty.
- Joe Strange
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