Monday, October 17, 2011

England need to look at bright side of Rooney ban

I don’t think anyone can argue that Wayne Rooney acted foolishly when he was sent off for England against Montenegro.

But eyebrows were certainly raised when he was given a three-game ban, ruling him out of the first three live football  games of Euro 2012 – the entire group stage. It appears UEFA wanted to make an example of Rooney and England – who aren’t exactly flavour of the month in international football circles at present.

It has left Fabio Capello with a quandary as he now has to re-work a system previously built around the Man United forward and try and come up with a viable solution using the replacements available.

But who is there?

Well Ashley Young and Darren Bent play well alongside Rooney, with the pair finally realising their potential and transferred their club form to the international stage.

Young is versatile enough to switch to Rooney’s position, allowing room for another forward, like his United team-mate Danny Welbeck.

He has progressed significantly over the past 12 months, with his successful loan stint at Sunderland and bright start to the season at Old Trafford.

However, for me, the man who could be England’s saviour is Daniel Sturridge. The 22-year-old hit eight goals in 12 appearances on-loan at Bolton last season and many wondered whether he would return to the Reebok, given the number of senior strikers at Stamford Bridge.

However, Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas resisted the Trotters attempts to lure the striker back up north and his loyalty has been repaid. Sturridge has now hit four goals in his last four games, revealing at the weekend that he has a spot at Euro 2012 in his sights.

For me he has that extra spark and unpredictability that makes him the ideal replacement for Rooney - He can drop deep if necessarily and can create goals as well as score them, just like Rooney. He is even an outside tip in the Top Scorer Betting .

He obviously isn’t as accomplished the former Everton man – yet. But it needs to be pointed out that Rooney hasn’t scored at a major tournament since Euro 2004, so his absence isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes in football opportunities are presented through unfortunate circumstance, an injury, a suspension, a manager’s impulse decision.

The emergence of Sturridge – who is expected to make his England debut next month – could make Rooney’s indiscretion in Podgorica a blessing in disguise.

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