The curious cases of Crouch and Carroll

With the Premiership taking a back burner following last weekend’s set of fixtures, attentions now turn to England’s European Championship qualifying campaign. Preparations have been hindered by the re-instatement of John Terry as captain with the players moving quickly to re-assure fans that there is no dressing room split as a result of the decision made by Fabio Capello to strip Rio Ferdinand of the captaincy.

To be honest, the John Terry England captaincy story has made its splash in the water and the ripple effect isn’t as bad as initially feared. Fans and players have, in the majority, welcomed back Terry as captain so, in my opinion; it’s time to move on from the whole scenario.

This brings me on to my next point in hand – who is going to partner Wayne Rooney up front against Wales? England’s last outing against Denmark may have rewarded Capello and the players with the right result and given the squad a major confidence boost heading into Saturday’s fixture. However, it also highlighted a major flaw up front; Darren Bent and Rooney don’t work together in a strike partnership.

We all know Capello is going to start Rooney. The Manchester United forward has been an important member of the Italians starting XI since he took over and, if Rooney starts, Capello will start a big man up top to partner him. The retirement of Emile Heskey paved the way for someone to follow in his footsteps (not literally, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!) and the two stand out candidates happen to be Tottenham Hotspurs Peter Crouch and Liverpool new boy Andy Carroll.

Looking at the two’s previous experience at international level, it would be foolhardy to keep Crouch out of the starting XI. 22 goals in 42 international appearances is a record that speaks for itself and the Spurs man has a proven track record in the England set-up. Carroll, on the other hand, has made a handful of appearances since his Liverpool move with a thigh injury preventing the former Newcastle striker from making his debut until earlier this month. With match fitness proving hard to come by since his move, this will certainly hinder Carroll’s chances of starting against Wales, a factor that will play in favour of Crouch getting his name on the team sheet.

However, it will be hard to overlook a player who has commanded the highest fee for a British player and his physical presence compared to Crouch’s is much more impressive. Yet, while this may be the case, I feel Capello will settle for Crouch in the starting role. In my opinion, it is down to the thigh injury Carroll has been suffering from since the end of 2010. If he had managed to avoid said injury, I believe he would be starting Saturday’s game at the expense of Crouch.

Nonetheless, Carroll will indeed play some part in the game with his overall style of play offering more than Crouch and will work effectively in the latter stages of the game when the Wales defence is tiring.

Ben McAleer

Follow Ben on Twitter @BenMcAleer1



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