Workplaces up and down the land are abuzz with debate about who Roy Hodgson should take to Euro 2012, and Casa FourFourTwo is no exception. Here's what we think...
David Hall, EditorGoalkeepers: Joe Hart, Rob Green, John RuddyHartÃ¢ÂÂs nailed on as number one. IÃ¢ÂÂd take Ruddy for him to get a pinch of major championship spice (he could wind up a long term understudy for Hart) and IÃ¢ÂÂd take Green because if Hart does end up Ã¢ÂÂletting his country downÃ¢ÂÂ (TM every away ground that GreenÃ¢ÂÂs played in front of since), who better to have on hand to talk him through it?
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Micah Richards, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley ColeFisticuffs between Rio and John? Possibly. IÃ¢ÂÂd like to think that maybe, just once, we could all be adults and focus on the job at hand rather than the mess created back home. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a good bit of pace in this defensive mix, a recurring theme in my 23. As a side note, after watching Terry, Cahill and Cole line up against Barcelona, I started to feel a lot more confident about the summer. But then I am a hopeless England romantic.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Scott Parker, Frank Lampard, Steve Gerrard, James Milner, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainExperience and youth. Pace and guile. Exuberance and control. This selection should be able to cover all potential scenarios put before England. I think CarrickÃ¢ÂÂs had a great season and should get a shot in front of the back four. Then itÃ¢ÂÂs all about pace: two out of Walcott, Young or the Ox. I imagine an ageing Ukraine soiling their pants at the sheer speed of it all. In front of Carrick? Possibly Lampard: depends where his headÃ¢ÂÂs at after the Champions League final.
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Andy Carroll, Darren BentPace, pace and more pace up here. Welbeck and Sturridge would be my preferred pairing while Rooney is suspended; Carroll would be someone to throw on if things are going pear-shaped and Roy requires a kitchen sink-style plan B. Bent? God only knows if heÃ¢ÂÂll make it, but he does have a handy habit if being in the right place at the right time.
James Maw, Online Features EditorGoalkeepers: Hart, Ruddy, GreenHart is a no-brainer, of course. Green can entertain the rest with tales of his adventures in the Football League, while Ruddy has a very pun-friendly name, which is what we need going into a major tournament.
Defenders: Walker, Richards, Joleon Lescott, Cahill, Terry, Jones, ColeTwo caveats Ã¢ÂÂ namely the fitness of Cahill and Walker. Chris Smalling would've been ahead of Phil Jones, were it not for his unfortunately-timed groin injury. No space for Leighton Baines Ã¢ÂÂ Lescott is the back-up left-back. A risk, yes, but we may as well take a few.
Midfielders: Parker, Carrick, Lampard, Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Aaron Lennon, Young, Adam JohnsonLennon has had a good season at Spurs, when not hampered by injury Ã¢ÂÂ his pace makes him a superb impact sub. Lampard's late-season form make him a must, while Adam Johnson brings a bit more craft in wider areas. As for Scholes, if Gary Neville can convince us it's worth spending four hours watching Blackburn against Wigan, he can convince his old mate to dust off his passport one last time and make the trip.
Forwards: Walcott, Rooney, Welbeck, Carroll, Oxlade-ChamberlainCarroll's impressive recent performances edge him ahead of Peter Crouch for the 'lump it to the big man in a last-gasp attempt to bundle home a late goal in a game we really deserve to lose' spot. Oxlade-Chamberlain perhaps hasn't played as much as he would've liked this season, but he's as good a wild card as England are going to get.
Louis Massarella, Commissioning EditorGoalkeepers: Hart, Green, Jack ButlandSimple theory. HartÃ¢ÂÂs the undisputed No.1, Green's the most experienced back-up available. As for Butland, whatÃ¢ÂÂs the point taking an experienced no.3 keeper unless heÃ¢ÂÂs an amazingly good tourist guide/Scrabble player? Hugely unlikely to be needed on the pitch, so take a youngster for tournament/squad experience. Butland looks the most promising and has worked under new goalkeeping coach Dave Watson at Birmingham. Perfect.
Defenders: Walker, Richards, Lescott, Cahill, Jones, Cole, BainesFeel sorry for Chris Smalling: he would have been in, has been playing well at centre-back, proved he can play right-back for England Ã¢ÂÂ and he has three A-levels, more than the rest of the squad combined. IÃ¢ÂÂm taking a balls-out risk: no Terry or Rio. Both in decent form but nowhere near their best, so kill the debate, take neither, letÃ¢ÂÂs move on. No excuses then Ã¢ÂÂ or perhaps the perfect excuse for not doing well. Not sure I trust Jones at CB yet, bit too buccaneering, but he is Ã¢ÂÂthe futureÃ¢ÂÂ apparently. Also a good deputy for Parker in midfield. Richards is one of the two best right-backs, who can also play centrally. Carrick could play centre-back at a push too. Which leads us to...
Midfielders: Carrick, Parker, Barry, Gerrard, Lampard, Lennon, Young, Oxlade-ChamberlainI really canÃ¢ÂÂt understand why Carrick hasn't been in the squad recently. Better than Barry for me. Great positionally, loads of interceptions, two-footed passer, chips in with the odd goal, outstanding season in a lightweight Man United midfield. IÃ¢ÂÂd play him alongside Parker. Lennon's back in on recent form, with Oxlade-Chamberlain because he can play on left as well as right and I'd prefer him as back-up to Young than a functional Milner. So, no Theo then? Not so fast...
Forwards: Rooney, Welbeck, Walcott, Sturridge, CarrollWalcott must have been thinking Ã¢ÂÂOh no, not againÃ¢ÂÂ, having played in all the qualifiers, only for his form to dip recently and Lennon to come up on the rails as he did in 2010. For me, Theo has always been an instinctive player, more suited up top than out wide, where he has more time to think. He also reflects my one clear policy for this squad Ã¢ÂÂ to overload with England's main attribute: pace. Imagine Walcott coming on up top for the last 20 minutes... a defenderÃ¢ÂÂs nightmare. Welbeck and Sturridge deserve a berth, maybe even to start the opener. Sturridge, a rare left-footer, can also play wide. As for Carroll, I was going to plump for Crouch, who has been in good form and has previous at international level (against the like of the Isle of Wight, Bermuda and Guam), but as FFTÃ¢ÂÂs ed pointed out, foreign refs just seems to penalise him because heÃ¢ÂÂs really tall and thin and has to stoop to win a lot of headers. So Carroll it is, mainly because of recent form. I think heÃ¢ÂÂd relish the opportunity Ã¢ÂÂ and that others would like playing off him.
Huw Davies, Staff Writer/Sub EditorGoalkeepers: Hart, Ben Foster, Alex SmithiesIt's concerning for England that there are few trustworthy replacements if Hart succumbs to injury: the second and third keeper spots are wide open. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a perfect opportunity for England to blood a talented youngster and give him tournament experience. Though injury has put his career on hold this season, 22-year-old Alex Smithies of Huddersfield is still a real prospect and no less reliable than Scott Carson or David Stockdale.
Defenders: Walker, Richards, Lescott, Cahill, Terry, Jones, Cole, BainesLescott can deputise at left-back, but England wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt want to lose him in the middle. While heÃ¢ÂÂs looked occasionally suspect at Chelsea of late, Terry is still one of few chest-thumpers who can inspire England in tough circumstances, even if he loses his first-team place to Lescott and Cahill. ItÃ¢ÂÂs unfortunate that the flexible Chris Smalling misses out, but itÃ¢ÂÂs good news for the underrated Richards and PFA Young Player of the Year Walker, who no longer have to battle it out for one place. (Glen Johnson has been found out enough times now.) Jones should go as a utility player, capable across the defence and in central midfield should EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs holding players get crocked.
Midfielders: Parker, Carrick, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Lennon, Young, WalcottCarrick should come in for the sidelined Jack Wilshere, with Parker the obvious choice to battle alongside him in the centre. Lampard and Gerrard may no longer be the players they were, but they still have a lot to offer Ã¢ÂÂ most importantly, goals from midfield. Milner is a useful squad choice, Young and Walcott are standard picks for pace. Pace is one of EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs key assets, so they need a ready replacement: with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having played only a few hours of top-level football, the vastly improved Lennon Ã¢ÂÂ seriously missed by Tottenham when he was injured Ã¢ÂÂ could be a key impact sub.
Forwards: Rooney, Peter Crouch, Daniel Sturridge, WelbeckProbably the hardest position to pick, with so many options offering so many different things. England would love an out-and-out finisher like Darren Bent or Jermain Defoe, but both lack game time. Fortunately, Welbeck has it in him to be a poacher, and Sturridge has said in the new issue of FourFourTwo that heÃ¢ÂÂd like to do the same: lead the line, score the goals. England shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt need a lanky lummox as Plan B, but they frequently do and Crouch is still the best option for that. He offers more than the alternatives Ã¢ÂÂ inconsistent Andy Carroll, goal-shy Bobby Zamora or untested Grant Holt, who many forget has only started 23 games for Norwich this season.
Gary Parkinson, FourFourTwo.com EditorGoalkeepers: Hart, Scott Carson, Scott Loach
Joe Hart is England's key player: nowhere else is the pool so shallow. With respect, you're picking the other two names from a hat (or cap); it'd be nice to have experienced back-up Ã¢ÂÂ Paul Robinson? Ã¢ÂÂ but they've all requested gardening leave.
Defenders: Richards, Walker, Cahill, Lescott, Jones, Phil Jagielka, Cole, Baines Much as Hodgson might want John Terry and Rio Ferdinand focused, fit and at the top of their game, that hasn't been the case for years and the scope for off-field friction between the pair could poison the squad atmosphere. Without them it's a youngish defence, but Cahill and Lescott are hardly greenhorns and experience failed in 2010, so Fabio Capello was rejuvenating the squad anyway. Experience gained here will benefit several of the next generation.
Midfielders: Carrick, Parker, Barry, Gerrard, Lampard, Milner Despite the absence of Jack Wilshere, England have decent options for the central positions Ã¢ÂÂ withdrawn and advanced. Carrick has excelled, Barry has learned a lot, Steve'n'Frank offer experience (and options behind the main striker until Rooney returns) and Milner will do an intelligent job anywhere.
Forwards: Rooney, Carroll, Welbeck, Young, Lennon, WalcottComing into form bang on time, Carroll is a very different option up top. Welbeck squeaks out rival Danny Sturridge on account of more sharp-end experience (and day-job time spent with Rooney and Young), while Walcott similarly holds off clubmate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Ã¢ÂÂ for the time being: England have plenty of fast, tricky wide attackers, with Adam Johnson another overlooked option.
The FourFourTwo SquadFingers and toes asplay, we've worked out how many times each player has been selected by the assembled idiots experts:
5: Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Micah Richards, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Cole, Michael Carrick, Scott Parker, Frank Lampard, Steve Gerrard, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck4: Joleon Lescott, Aaron Lennon, Andy Carroll3: Rob Green, Leighton Baines, John Terry, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge 2: John Ruddy, Gareth Barry1: Jack Butland, Ben Foster, Alex Smithies, Scott Carson, Scott Loach, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jagielka, Paul Scholes, Adam Johnson, Darren Bent, Peter Crouch
Adding the players picked by five, four and three FFT writers totals 23, so the selected-by-committee squad is:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Rob GreenDefenders: Kyle Walker, Micah Richards, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott, Leighton Baines, John TerryMidfielders: Michael Carrick, Scott Parker, Frank Lampard, Steve Gerrard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young
The observant will notice that there's not enough goalkeepers there Ã¢ÂÂ so John Ruddy would have to replace either Baines, Terry, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sturridge. Not easy, this selection lark, is it?