Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe 5 players to replace Wayne Rooney - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The 5 players to replace Wayne Rooney - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The 5 players to replace Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney is a silly boy isn’t he? If he isn’t elbowing Wigan players or screaming ‘what? F##king what?’ down the camera, he’s instead kicking Montenegrin internationals in random fits of rage. The three-match ban was justified; you can’t go randomly lashing out at a fellow professional with our without intent. It the end, England managed to get the result they required to qualify as group winners but his actions were in-excusable.

The ensuing three-match suspension means, should Fabio Capello take the Manchester United talisman with him to Ukraine and Poland next summer, he won’t be available until the knockout stages of the competitions, should England even make it that far. Many are of the opinion that he is too good not to take to Euro 2012, even if he misses the original three group games, whereas some believe that his place should go to another national squad hopeful. Personally, this website agrees with the latter opinion and he shouldn’t join the other 22-men on their way to Eastern Europe next summer, especially when other capped hopefuls are so foolish with their actions.

With that in mind, below are the five players that can replace Rooney at Euro 2012:

Jermain Defoe

The Tottenham front-man has been in excellent form thus far this season, scoring five goals in nine games in all competitions. After a less than impressive campaign last year, a full pre-season campaign under his belt has gone a long way to improving his poor goal-scoring form of 2011. With the arrival of Emmanuel Adebayor, Defoe has been restored alongside a big man up front and the 29-year-old’s form has coincided with Harry Redknapp reverting back to 4-4-2 and, perhaps more importantly, the ‘big man/little man’ combination that saw Defoe become the prolific poacher that he was renowned for.

Unluckily left out of the Capello’s England squads in recent months, with the Italian preferring Darren Bent to lead the front-line, it was the former West Ham United and Portsmouth striker that gave England the much need win they required against Slovenia to qualify for the last 16 of South Africa 2010. But, the problem that lies with Defoe is that he needs to play alongside another front-man to succeed. His performances for Spurs as the lone striker, with Rafael Van der Vaart behind him, failed to impress Capello and it was these performances that saw him dropped for the recent European Championship qualifiers.

Unfortunately for Defoe, 4-4-2 has now become to open and less fluid for the international game and while he thrives off the support of a big man, a 4-3-3, or 4-5-1, is what England need to play in order to keep up with the likes Spain, Germany and Holland, all of which are, technically, light-years ahead of the English. So while Defoe can bang them in at a club level, he doesn’t have the ability or the footballing brain to play in a number 10 role that Rooney excels in for club and country. Nonetheless, if he continues his superb goalscoring form, that currently sees him as Spurs top scorer for the season, then it will be hard for Capello to overlook him, even as back-up for Bent, for Euro 2012.

Daniel Sturridge

It has been a whirlwind 12 months for the former Manchester City trainee. On the peripherals of the Chelsea first-team and appearing out of favour at Stamford Bridge following the arrival of Fernando Torres, Sturridge was shipped out on loan to Bolton Wanderers for the latter half of last season. Bolton have made a habit of loaning youngsters that are on the edge of breaking into their parent clubs starting XI, Jack Wilshere spent six months at the Reebok stadium, excelling in the Trotters midfield making 14 appearances in the process. The rest, as they say, is history. For Sturridge, it was a similar case with 22-year-old given the chance to really showcase his ability in the Premiership for the footballing world to see. He grasped his opportunity with both hands, scoring 8 goals in 12 games helping Bolton to a 14th place finish, three points off Fulham in 8th.

He evidently impressed the Bolton management staff that Owen Coyle even requested to have him back on loan for this season. Unfortunately for Coyle, new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas had different ideas for the youngster and, fully aware of his scoring exploits for Bolton, began to give Sturridge game time in the Blues starting XI. At the beginning of the season, many expected the England man to be fifth choice striker at Chelsea, behind Didier Drogba, Nicholas Anelka, Torres and Saloman Kalou but with injuries and suspensions coming to Drogba and Torres, respectively, Sturridge has found himself starting more and more games as the season has worn on.

Now considered at starter under Villa-Boas, there have been numerous calls for Sturridge to be called into the senior squad after some impressive displays both for Chelsea and at Under 21 level and while originally perceived as an out-and-out front-man, the Portuguese tactician has successfully altered Sturridge’s games in order to accommodate him into the starting XI, often utilising his pace on the wing of a front-three. His versatility could prove vital to Capello next summer and should he include him in his 23-man party, his selection could well prove to be an inspired one and even though he may not be selected to play the number 10 role, his inclusion could free-up space for a player that could, which brings me onto the third potential Rooney replacement.

Ashley Young

Rooney’s new team-mate having arrived from Aston Villa over the summer, Young has quickly adjusted to his new surroundings. With over five-years of Premier League experience, the winger was always going to take to his career at Old Trafford like a duck to water, especially with Sir Alex Ferguson favouring a high tempo game often played down the wings. Nonetheless, it is particularly surprising that the 26-year-old has only 18 caps to his name with Capello only favouring the former Watford and Villa wide man in recent months.

Perhaps holding the edge over his potential rivals, due to his links with former team-mate Bent, Young’s pace could be real asset next summer and his four international goals to date, an average of just over one every four games, is highly impressive considering he has mainly been utilised as a winger during his time in the national squad. He can consider himself unlucky not to have made the 23-man cut for last year’s World Cup and is sure to be a shoe-in for the squad next summer.

But, will it be in the position that he is expecting? Young has the potential to really cause damage in the space between the midfield and the striker and, despite only spending six months with Bent at Villa Park, the two developed a quick understanding with each other and a number of Bent’s goals were as a result of Young’s assists. And with the potential to utilise Sturridge as a winger, Young could well be positioned behind the Villa striker in order to cause maximum damage to the opposition back line, should he occupy the space behind the front-man at the Euro’s.

Danny Welbeck

The 20-year-old Manchester United man could well be considered an outside call for a spot on the plane next summer. Despite only a handful of appearances for the Red Devils, Welbeck has already begun making a name for himself at Old Trafford. Five goals to his name in 14 league appearances, a majority of those coming this season, has seen the front-man preferred to both experienced stars Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov as third-choice strike, behind starting duo Javier Hernandez and Rooney. Yet, many followers of the Premier League were already aware of his abilities following his loan spell with Sunderland last season.

Endearing himself to many of the United faithful scoring one of the goals in his man of the match performances during the Black Cats 3-0 win over Chelsea. That goal was one of seven during his season-long spell at the Stadium of Light and despite Steve Bruce’s attempts to bring him back to Sunderland this season, Sir Alex Ferguson, much like Villas-Boas and Sturridge, simply refused to sign off on such a deal. And it is beginning to appear as though his choice has been justified.

Nonetheless, like Defoe, Welbeck operates better when he has a man supporting him, whether it is from deep or a big man alongside him. I doubt he will be challenging Bent for a starting spot; he can certainly do a job partnering him up front, or even in the space behind him. But, he will have to challenge Young for the role and if Rooney is taken, then Capello will be hard pressed to bring Welbeck along for the journey not because of his competition, but also due to his age and inexperience at the international level.

James Milner

It can be argued that the Manchester City midfielder hasn’t been given the chance to showcase his capabilities to his full potential at the international, especially with Capello often utilising Milner as a winger rather than in his favoured position in the centre. At club level, when starting behind the striker, the 25-year-old plays to his maximum potential with his shooting ability often compared to that of Paul Scholes.

Having joined City last year, Milner has often found himself starting games from the bench, his two league goals to date proof of this. But with a gruelling league, Champions League and FA Cup campaign set to engulf the Citizens this season; you can expect to see the former Newcastle and Aston Villa man more often than not this year. Nevertheless, with Capello having used him as a winger during his international campaign, you get the feeling that the Italian will continue to utilise the City man on either the right or left flanks rather than give him the chance to perform in the centre.

It is a shame for Milner because he is often scrutinised for his performances on the international stage despite being played out of position. Without being given the opportunity to fill the gap behind the front-man, some fans believe we will never see the best of Milner for England unless Capello is willing to risk an un-familiar individual in such an important role. But, his displays for both Newcastle and Villa have shown that he can do an efficient and effective role in the centre, where his creative spark can really shine brightest.

Ben McAleer

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