A week away from the start of Euro 2012, and England have suffered the second injury setback of the week. Normally not a subject that would hold much interest for me these days, but I cannot help but think that the loss of Frank Lampard creates quite an opportunity for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Now before you start, I agree wholeheartedly that raising the bar of expectation for a teenager with just half a dozen Premiership starts is not really in the best interests of the player. You cannot ignore the fact though that the England midfield, not exactly overflowing with true world class when the squad was announced, now looks paper thin.
I would imagine that Steve Gerrard and Scott Parker would now be the partnership of choice for the tournament. Neither is likely to retain full fitness and sharpness for the duration of the tournament should England survive the opening group phase of three games in eight days. The alternatives are not that attractive. Newly called-up Jordan Henderson? Defender come utility player Phil Jones?
Although the Arsenal supporter in me wants the Ox to be spared the likely scrutiny, if I were in Roy Hodgson’s shoes I might well conclude that the player most equipped to replace Lampard’s goals from midfield would be the young Gunner. The question about whether or not he could compete at the highest level in the middle of the park has already been partially answered.
Whatever lies in store for England, let’s hope the tournament provides rich experience for Alex, and Theo Walcott of course. We can only benefit if they do get a chance to perform at a major tournament and return home in one piece.
A Short Break
I’m off to attempt more brain-washing of the grand’holics this weekend so may well be taking a break from blogging until Tuesday. I hope those of you also enjoying a holiday have a great time. For those who are working as normal, could you please do a little bit more than usual. The world’s faltering economies need you to get stuck in…and I would quite like to have a pension to draw in a decade or so.
Have a good one, ‘holics.
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