As was feared, last night two familiar names were left off the England squad sheets for the forthcoming European qualifiers. Dan reported over the weekend, it was likely that the injuries sustained by Bobby Zamora, called up earlier this month for the friendly against Hungary, and David Stockdale at Blackpool on Saturday would force Capello to name alternatives. And indeed he did.
Patrick Barclay, in his column in The Times today (behind the paywall I’m afraid), suggests that Bobby’s injury is a big blow to the England squad and praises his recent form;
The Fulham centre forward has been in such consistently marvellous form for so long that it hardly seemed to matter that he was 29. To me, Zamora looked the key to an invigorated England, one that might start to rebuild confidence damaged by a dismal World Cup with vibrant performances in the opening qualifying matches for the European Championship against Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday and Switzerland in Basle tomorrow week.
Bobby’s been quite unlucky with injuries holding him back from making a real impact internationally, first the Achilles injury reportedly preventing him from joining the squad in South Africa over the summer, and now a thigh strain, but hopefully he’ll get the chance to pull on the white shirt again and show how far he’s come. It certainly doesn’t sound too serious an injury and there’s no indication that he’ll not be able to join his Fulham colleagues when Craven Cottage hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers in two weeks’ time. At least the international break affords Zamora an extra week to overcome this setback.
The news for Stockdale doesn’t sound quite so good with The Guardian reporting that he could be out for two months after damaging his ankle ligaments on Saturday;
Ankle ligament damage has already denied Stockdale his first involvement with the national side – the Fulham goalkeeper fears he could be absent for up to two months having only just broken into the first team at Craven Cottage – and allowed Carson a return to the fold.
So not only does he miss out on his first cap, but Stockdale misses the opportunity to continue proving himself worthy of a regular first team spot. Stockdale shouldn’t be too concerned about his international debut – he’s still young and Capello has few goalkeeping options, so a future call-up could well be a reality. The question is whether he’ll continue to be a regular on the pitch, rather than on the bench, once he recovers from his injury. With rumours about Shay Given coming to the Cottage on loan, in order to allow Schwarzer his longed-for move across London, and Mark Hughes having already set about managing Stockdale’s expectations, the likelihood seems quite remote.
For now, the England squad is without its “lucky” Fulham contingent but it says a lot that the media is even considering our players for international recognition, not least that perhaps the domination of the Big Four may well be nearing its end. Long may it continue.