Gary Neville. Yes, Gary Neville. I can’t stand him, but he would have been in my 23 had I been the England manager.
No, that’s not because as a Northern Ireland fan I would want Red Nev to disrupt the squad and blow their chances, it’s because I genuinely think he should be there.
And for the record I want to see England go far, as they add so much interest and emotion to the tournament.
Football matches are at their best when you want a team to win or lose rather than not caring who comes out on top.
And because of everything that goes with England, you can’t sit on the fence with them.
Back to the squad and if Leighton Baines can get in the 30-man panel, surely Neville (pictured) deserved an opportunity to stake his claim.
His experience off the pitch, even if he didn’t get on it much, would have been vital.
He didn’t get the call and therefore I’ll go with what Fabio Capello has got and trim down accordingly. Here’s the 23 he should take to South Africa:
Goalkeepers: J Hart, R Green, D James.
Defenders: G Johnson, A Cole, J Carragher, J Terry, R Ferdinand, L King, M Dawson, S Warnock.
Midfielders: S Gerrard, F Lampard, J Cole, J Milner, A Lennon, S Parker, T Walcott, G Barry (if not fit Adam Johnson).
Strikers: W Rooney, P Crouch, D Bent, J Defoe.
Left out: M Upson, L Baines, M Carrick, T Huddlestone, S Wright Phillips, E Heskey, A Johnson (if Barry makes it)
And here’s the 11 he should start against the USA (assuming that even if Barry makes the trip he may not quite be ready for England’s opening match).
Hart; Johnson, Terry, Dawson, Cole; Lennon, Gerrard (captain), Lampard, Milner, Rooney, Crouch.
This isn’t necessarily England’s strongest side but it is one to beat USA. When the real tests come, Capello should play Gerrard just behind Rooney and let the scouse duo wreak havoc.