That’s the question three Premier League managers will want answering this afternoon. Some have speculated that the England striker shortage might lead to a surprise call up for Andy Johnson, but I’d be very surprised if that were to happen. It seemed extraordinary that three strikers should suffer such innocuous-looking injuries in the same game and – not rating Darren Bent too highly (particularly as he can’t get in the Tottenham team) – Wayne Rooney’s deadly touch in front of goal should ensure he starts up front against the Ukraine on Wednesday.
England’s defence didn’t really get too much of a test yesterday but there were a few jitters there. Ashley Cole might be good going forward but he’s prone to odd errant pass and against better opposition both he and Matthew Upson, who rather foolishly elected to let the ball come across his body, might not have been bailed out by David James.
It’s approaching blasphemy on a Fulham site to laud a Frank Lampard performance but I thought he was exceptional last night. Rooney will get all the plaudits for his two well-taken goals but I was intrigued to see how Lampard – who, in all honestly would probably lose his place if I was picking the England team – would adapt to playing a different, deeper role. He dovetailed well with Gareth Barry, allowing the Villa man to go forward, and made the kind of late run into the box which can be so crucial for his goal. If there can be such a thing as an understated man-of-the-match performance this was it.
There’s still a bit of sorting out to do. Glen Johnson’s probably got to do a bit more to establish himself as the first-choice right-back but he looks to be coming on nicely. I’m not as sold on Rooney drifting off the centre backs to the flanks as Capello seems to be but if he’s given such freedom to roam in what looks like a fairly flexible formation then it just might carry the element of surprise that England have lacked in recent years.
I remember being really excited about Aaron Lennon when he had that terrific season at Spurs that carried him into England’s World Cup squad. The trouble is he doesn’t seem to have progressed too much from there. He still looks a little raw and, though he has that express pace to frighten a full-back, his crossing remains something of a lottery. I’d be tempted to start with Beckham, whose cameo down the right was mightily impressive, against Ukraine but Lennon’s speed will probably get him another go.
And what’s up with the new England kit? If the idea was to look retro, I think they failed dismally. It’s a cross between a cricket top that would lurk beneath a fast bowler’s sweater and the kind of embarassing shirt inter-mural university sides sport up and down the country every weekend. What’s that? Fabio helped design it? Well, in that, case it’s brilliant!