Fabio Capello insisted that young players would have a run out in the friendly against France. So what's with this squad?:
Ben Foster (Birmingham), age 27, 4 caps
Joe Hart (Man City), age 23, 7 caps
Rob Green (West Ham), age 30, 11 caps (this seems low)
John Terry (Chelsea), age 29, 65 caps
Joleon Lescott (Man City), age 28, 10 caps
Micah Richards (Man City), age 22, 11 caps
Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), age 32, 78 caps
Chris Smalling (Man Utd); age 20, no caps
Theo Walcott (Arsenal), age 21, 14 caps
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), age 18, 1 cap
Gareth Barry (Man City), age 29, 43 caps
Adam Johnson (Man City), age 23, 5 caps
James Milner (Man City), age 24, 14 caps
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), age 24, 3 caps
Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff), age 28, no caps
Andy Carroll (Newcastle), age 21, no caps
Peter Crouch (Tottenham). age 29, 41 caps
Average age: 25 1/4 years. Which I suppose is young, but in the life of a footballer? That's about prime, I'd guess. But I sincerely question some of these decisions. What's the point of Gareth Barry? Are there really no better central midfielders in England? Do we really need to see more of John Terry, and has Capello actually watched much of John Terry this season? Even Peter Crouch seems slightly unnecessary, but I guess England have a shortage of uninjured strikers right now.
I'm happy for Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonlahor, I really am, but I find it hard to believe that Capello was fully present at Villa Park today. Yes, England have plenty of speedy wingers, but if you're really testing out young unknowns, give Marc Albrighton a run out in a game that doesn't matter. The football world was abuzz today about the young talent of Villa, and yet Capello insists on the devil he knows--and you better believe that if Rooney was fit, there would be no Agbonlahor on that squad.
I really have to question Capello's ability to evaluate talent if he sincerely thought that Young deserved a call over Stewart Downing. Yes, Young is versatile, but Capello will never play him anywhere but the right wing, that doesn't really matter. Downing has been on fire this season. His shot at the end of the match missed by maybe half an inch, and if Albrighton hadn't misdirected a header, Downing's cross to him would have been lauded as pure perfection. Meanwhile, Young spent the first half of the game giving the ball to United, whether it was through a misplayed pass or a gentle nudge to Van der Sar. I guess with Frank Lampard out, England need someone who can take a penalty kick.*
Grow a spine, Capello. Your inclusion of two youngsters with no caps, and two with one, doesn't show me that you've actually managed to find your backbone. It's time to take a chance. It's called a friendly for a reason.
*keep in mind, I still adore Ash. It's just that he's had a couple of really crappy games recently.