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The big talking point is that Arsenalís Theo Walcott did not make the final cut. Was that a smart move by Capello or not? On balance I would say it was. No one doubts Walcottís speed but his passing and reading of a game are questionable and he only played 16 times for Arsenal last season. He was given every chance to prove himself in the friendlies against Mexico and Japan but did not shine. Bearing in mind that Capello had disclosed that he had 20 of the 23 players that would be going to South Africa selected before the Japan game, Walcott must have been one of the players he harboured doubts about. Shaun Wright-Phillips was given the nod instead.
The curious thing about this is that while Capello has included Shaun Wright-Phillips, he has overlooked SWPís Manchester City team-mate Adam Johnson. At Eastlands, Johnson is Roberto Manciniís first choice over SWP. Wonder what the City fans make of that? Didnít Capello say that he would take club form into account? For my money, Johnson should have been on the plane too.
Darren Bent being left out may also upset some England fans. His form for Sunderland has been very impressive and it must have been his lacklustre displays in an England shirt that counted against him. He too played in the friendly against Japan and was very ineffective. On balance I would say the decision to discard him was the right thing to do.
One inclusion that some are bound to question is Villaís Stephen Warnock. He did not play in the last two warm up games and he has spent a total of just six minutes playing in an England shirt. Some would see his inclusion as a move forced on Capello after the disastrous performances of Leighton Baines in the recent games in London and Graz.
Doubtless all seven of the players who will take no further part in the competition will be devastated. It must have been tough taking the phone call from the manager telling them they would not be going to the World Cup 2010 - so close and yet so far.
For the England fans though the news that Gareth Barry passed his fitness test and will be going to Johannesburg is encouraging. As a holding midfielder, his role will be tremendously important although it may be that Capello will not risk him in the first Group C games to minimise the possibility of further ankle problems. Having him available for selection will definitely make things easier for Capello if England progress beyond Group C. Online betting sites are quoting odds of 20/1 on that England can do that.
In a nutshell, Capello looks to have made some shrewd choices and come up with a balanced squad with a solid core of experience (average age of the team is 28!) and skill and the potential to give any other nation in the tournament a run for its money. The first game against the USA will tell us a lot about how Capello plans to use the footballers in his squad. I for one cannot wait to find out.
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