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Last Chance for England’s ‘Premiership Generation’

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John Terry’s loss of the captaincy also led to England’s former manager Fabio Capello to leave after criticising the FA’s decision on Italian television of removing Terry of the captaincy without his permission. The FA didn’t help matters by leaving the naming of a new England manager right up to the last minute with an already over worked Stuart Pearce running preparations for the Great Britain Olympic team along with the England under-21’s also put in charge of Euro preparations before Roy Hodgson was named ahead of the fans and media’s first choice Harry Redknapp.

Hodgson’s appointment was seen as a smart move by the FA as he was out of contract at West Bromwich Albion and wouldn’t cost nearly as much as having to take Harry Redknapp away from Tottenham Hotspur.

Hodgson brings a wealth of international experiences over five different decades in the game having started management in the mid 70’s at Swedish top flight side, Halmstads. In 1992 he took his first international job as the Switzerland manager and helped them qualify for the World Cup at USA 94, this was their first World Cup since 1966. He helped take Switzerland up to their highest ever FIFA ranking of 3rd in the world and even helped them qualify for Euro 96 before leaving for Inter Milan before the tournament began. Roy Hodgson has also managed successful spells with the national sides of Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

Back to England’s squad and there were a number of uncapped players in the group of 23 with former Motherwell goalkeeper John Ruddy getting his first senior call up along with the young Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who at 18 years old is definitely the youngster of the group. Hodgson has also chosen Wayne Rooney among his strikers even though he is suspended for England’s first two group games against France and Sweden having got a red card in their last qualifying game against Montenegro for violently lashing out at an opposing player.

Rooney is joined up front with Jermaine Defoe who hasn’t played a competitive game for England since September 2010 although he did score three goals in his two qualifying appearances. Also up front are Liverpool front man Andy Carrol who has one goal in three games for England and Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck who is yet to score for England in his four appearances for the senior side.

Hodgson has also named a number of England golden ‘Premiership’ generation players such as Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Gareth Barry, Scott Parker, Joleon Lescott and England captain Steven Gerrard.

John Ruddy’s goalkeeping teammates are West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green who hasn’t pulled on an England jersey since his embarrassing performance against the USA at the last World Cup and Manchester City number one, Joe Hart who has 17 England appearances to his name including all eight qualifying games where he kept five clean sheets and only conceded five goals, three of which came against Hodgson former side, Switzerland.

In defence England name a strong back line with; Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott joining former captain John Terry.

These players are very much tournament experienced and will be going into Euro 2012 with a lot less expectation than any tournament they have played before. This lowering in expectations is less to do with the strength of the team and more the poor preparations for the tournament with the media being unable to big up the squad without the figure head of a big name manager.

This lowering of expectations could see England upset the apple cart by maybe progressing further than they have in previous European Championships having not qualified for Euro 2008 and being knocked out in the quarter finals of Euro 2004.

England certainly have the experience with a squad full of players who have being played at Footballs highest level for nearly ten years now along with a raft of exciting young players especially on the wing in Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young. This mix could potentially achieve the aspirations of a demanding English public who crave the success of their European neighbours who seem to be leaving them behind internationally. The minimum expectations for this England squad will be to get out of a tough group including the hosts Ukraine as well as a young French side and an experienced Swedish team who will be targeting England as the team to beat if they want to progress to the quarter finals. Anything further than the quarter finals will be seen as a great success and could have the England supporters forgetting that they ever wanted Harry Redknapp as manager.

England play two warm up friendlies against Norway in Oslo on the 26th of May and against Belgium at Wembley on the 2nd of June.

England squad:

Goalkeepers – Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy.

Defenders – Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, John Terry.

Midfielders – Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.

Strikers – Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

Standby – Jack Butland, Phil Jagielka, Jordan Henderson, Adam Johnson, Daniel Sturridge.

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