Holland v England - tonight - 19.00hrs - Amsterdam Arena
It's a friendly and as such the media attention where the British are concerned (or, depending on your opinion, predominately the south of England media) is on Steve McClaren's approach to the game. Friendly in terms of no significance in the result, gaining points or going through, simply meet up and play. The friendliness stops when the teams come out, though certain players may focus on keeping fit for their domestic sides and play with less emphasis. A number of absentees from the England squad, and I do question the necessity of today's game sandwiched between the domestic weekends as it is not a qualifier.
The Dutch squad has been reduced with Edwin van der Sar's absence, who opted to be rested, Robin Van Persie expecting his first child (I understand Chris Kirkland is absent for the same reason, congratulations and good luck to them both), Joris Mathijsen suffered a whack on the nose and had to have it re-set, Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are injured. But Clarence Seedorf comes in after learning he is just cover and has to really impress to earn a regular call-up. That is ironic, for Ruud Van Nistelrooy is not picked after scoring six goals in the two recent Real matches of the Copa del Rey and La Liga.
England are without Jermaine Jenas, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Darren Bent, Kirkland, Scott Parker, Gary Neville and Stewart Downing with Micah Richards coming in but no call for Luke Young. It seems from the Dutch squad and likely line-up this is a suitable, if not inconvenient, moment to test some fresh blood. I would like to know who you would choose and what formation:
Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher, Matt Dawson, Wayne Bridge
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole
Andrew Johnson, Jermaine Defoe
I saw Foster in action during Watford's play-off matches with Crystal Palace and then Leeds and was impressed and he has good potential so I would have him start. Richards is young, determined and comes forward well and Bridge is known for his good attacking runs so the full-backs offer good options. Both Carragher and Dawson are struggling defensively and I think the two of them rather than having a figurehead in either Terry or Ferdinand alongside them is throwing them in at the deep end somewhat but I want to see them both rising up. Phil Neville is versatile and of late since joining Everton has given him the captaincy and first-team action, so I think he has matured well. That gives Carrick the opportuity to surge forward and provide the passes for the forwards I expect they will be eager to gobble up and he can shoot from distance.
McClaren has hailed SWP but for his lack of first-time appearances and I want to give him a start and Cole has returned to fitness and I think would relish a start to get his international career back up and running. Lastly, the forwards. McClaren has opted for Wayne Rooney and Johnson, both determined, pacey, and will shoot from all angles with usual accuracy of 75-80% on goal. Yet given his exploits for club recently, I would be inclined to opt for Defoe, who is equally determined, pacey and likes to shoot from anywhere. He came on on Sunday and got into two good positions and if we can supply him those through balls, particularly from Carrick, it would be standard to his expectations. The possible exception is the height of the two forwards, and to that I say look on how Owen never hesitated to jump up and head.