left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Defensive conundrum for England in San Marino

Updated: 2013-03-22 07:28
By Agence France-Presse in Serravalle, San Marino ( China Daily)

England manager Roy Hodgson faces a dilemma in central defense ahead of his side's 2014 World Cup qualifying match away to Group H minnow San Marino on Friday.

Since Hodgson (pictured) named his squad last week, Tottenham Hotspur's Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill of Chelsea have withdrawn through injury, while Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand ruled himself out, citing fitness concerns.

Defensive conundrum for England in San Marino

With Phil Jagielka of Everton already sidelined by injury, it leaves Hodgson desperately short of experience in the center of defense.

It may matter little against perennial underdog San Marino, but Friday's game also presents an opportunity to tune up for Tuesday's taxing visit to group leader Montenegro.

Of the centerbacks at Hodgson's disposal, only Joleon Lescott has won more than 10 caps, with Chris Smalling, Steven Caulker and the uncapped Steven Taylor boasting just five international appearances between them.

One solution may be to slide Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick into the defensive line.

Carrick has played at centerback for his club, and with England expected to dominate possession at Serravalle's Stadio Olimpico, his ease on the ball may prove more useful than the experience of a seasoned defender.

In the absence of so many experienced centerbacks, James Milner has identified his Manchester City colleague Lescott as the man to marshal the England back line, despite his fall from favor at the Etihad Stadium.

"Joleon hasn't played loads of games for City this year but when he has done, he has played well," Milner said.

"I don't think we will be affected by the withdrawals. Joleon has now come in, has played a lot of games for England and is a top player as well."

(China Daily 03/22/2013 page22)

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.