Rio Ferdinand is currently being hauled over the coals after his chronic lapse in the match against Ukraine. Many are questioning his place in the team if not the squad – at least until he’s 100% fit, both physically and mentally.
However, Rio’s lapse which resulted in Rob Green’s red card (the first England goalkeeper to be sent off) – and it’s the West Ham man who may end up paying the price for Ferdinand’s all too familiar lapse in concentration.
Green was just starting to establish himself in the England team. Having been picked ahead of the returning David James, Green lined up against Ukraine for his sixth consecutive England cap. His run started back in June, away to Kazakhstan and quadrupled Green’s caps – from two to eight.
After the much trumpeted Ben Foster has flattered to deceive for both club and country Green found himself in the box seat to be James’ understudy for the World Cup in South Africa.
Indeed, by picking Green ahead of the fit-again James, England boss Fabio Capello had sent a clear message that even the seemingly inked in James’ place wasn’t safe. James had lost his place through injury and Green, stepping into the breach had performed well – he deserved to keep his place.
It was a smart bit of management by Capello – the message being: “Take your chance when it comes and World Cup places are still up for grabs.” With the likes of Joe Cole, Michael Owen, Gabriel Agbonlahor and many more setting their sights on South Africa this was a great carrot dangled by the gaffer.
Thirteen minutes into the action in Dnipropetrovsk, Artem Milevskiy was in a heap and Green’s World Cup dreams hang by a thread. Ferdinand stood, statue-like watching as Milevskiy darted past him, exposing Green horribly.
James was called on from the bench (also denting Aaron Lennon’s World Cup hopes as he was sacrificed) and Green is now suspended for the only remaining competitive match before the World Cup. The errant Foster has been recalled to the squad for the match against Belarus.
Portsmouth ‘keeper James is still the most likely to start between the posts when England’s World Cup campaign kicks-off. However, as recent knocks have shown James is becoming more injury prone as he ages – and as we all know only too well every knock seems to take longer to heal with every passing year.
Green position as first alternative looked assured after some steady performances in James’ absence. However, the Hammers’ stopper still lacks top level experience – not helped by his dismissal and subsequent suspension. Assuming he makes Capello’s squad he’ll have only eight caps – plus any more he can glean in the meaningless friendlies before the tournament.
Should the worst happen and James pick up a knock during the tournament would you pitch in a relative novice against the likes of Brazil or Germany? The prospects of the much improved (and 40-capped) Paul Robinson are looking healthier by the day.