It was undoubtedly a blow to England’s World Cup hopes when David Beckham ruptured his achilles playing for Milan a few weeks ago.
The former England captain would have been a vital squad member whose influence would have extended beyond the playing field – as shown by Fabio Capello’s intention to include Beckham in the squad’s preparations.
But as the door closes on Beckham’s World Cup aspirations so another opens for a replacement, and for me there are two standout players who are showing the form and crucially the fitness to make the squad.
The first is James Milner. The former Newcastle winger has had an excellent season at Villa, hitting nine goals and helping the Villans to the League Cup final, the FA Cup semi-final and sixth place in the table, where they are battling for a spot in next season’s Champions League. The FA Cup betting suggests Villa are still in with a chance of bagging a trophy this season.
Milner also seems to have developed a maturity in his game that makes me believe he can handle the pressure of a World Cup, something many players cannot do. Able to play both on the left and right wing, he has a versatility that is vital in tournament football.
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