Preferred England team for Poland 0

The Premier League Owl

Are we more excited that England are playing, or that today is the last day of this international entertainment vacuum? You can guess.

Anyway, here’s our preferred starting line-up for Warsaw.

Joe Hart

Obviously. On a side note, didn’t the ‘ironic’ cheers of the Wembley crowd that greeted Hart’s every touch of the ball demonstrate how easily amused we are as a nation. Waaay, waaaay, waaaaaay, come on everybody, let’s do a Mexican Wave. Comedy gold.

Glen Johnson

Kyle Walker is the long term England right-back in waiting, but he’s just not quite ready to be playing in this type of game. Johnson edges it on experience - expect the usual ‘good going forward, poor in defensive’ critique of him in the morning.

Leighton Baines

Presumably, Ashley Cole will start in reality, but that will be incredibly harsh on Baines, given that he’s been the stand-out left back in the Premier League this season. To be fair to Roy Hodgson, Cole is the better defender and has the kind of experience which will be useful in this type of fixture.

Phil Jagielka

Thoroughly deserves his place in the team ahead of the now retired John Terry. Good defender, good recovery pace - has been quietly-excellent for Everton for a while now.

Gary Cahill

Good footballer. There are still question marks over him at international level, given his lack of competitive experience and limited Premier League CV, but now is as good a time as any to find out what he’s capable of.

Michael Carrick

This is the kind of game in which possession and control are vital, it follows therefore that Carrick should get the start ahead of…well, there’s nobody else who can perform the same function. Controls a game and dictates the temperament like no other English player of his generation.

Steven Gerrard

Little point in offering an alternative, he’s playing.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

In amongst the dross, he actually had quite a good game against San Marino. Of course, the standard of the opposition makes it hard to apply a context to that performance, but still - he was certainly one of the better players. Also seems to have a promising partnership with Wayne Rooney, so that’s one for the plus column.

Aaron Lennon

Was I the only person not saddened by Theo Walcott’s failure to make the plane? His collision with the goalkeeper at Wembley saved us from an inevitably profligate 90 minutes of wing-play. Lennon’s final ball may not be perfect - in fact far from it -but it has at least shown signs of improving. Also a better footballer, and hence more suited to the international game. He’ll scare Poland.

Wayne Rooney

Not really debatable. Albeit with the same caveat as with Oxlade-Chamberlain, he played well on Friday night. Took his goals well, dropped deep to influence the play - essentially, he took responsibility.

Jermain Defoe

Danny Welbeck is fine as a forward, but there’s something haphazard about the way he plays. He’s clearly unpredictable, which has its obvious merits, but equally, that’s a barrier to chemistry with the rest of the team. You know what you’re going to get with Defoe - he’ll play on the shoulders of the defenders, who in Poland’s case are their soft underbelly. It’s simple: if a chance were to fall to one of him or Welbeck, you’d have shorter odds on Defoe putting it away. Vital in an away fixture which is likely to be cagey and tight.

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