England caretaker manager has announced his squad for the game against Holland next Thursday. 

Pearce wont be in charge of England for Euro 2012 but is leading the Great Britain Olympic team.

The Squad

Goalkeepers: Scott Carson (Bursaspor), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Forwards: Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Fraizer Campbell (Sunderland), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).

The big news is the inclusion of Fraizer Campbell and omission of Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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If I was Carrick I'd be gutted, on current form to not get in the squad over Barry and Milner is tragic.

I'd go as far as to say that Carrick is the best midfield option England have for international football. 

AND DOWNING? Wow, just wow.

Lescott can feel hard done by. Good to see Richards back in. Don't see the point in taking Glenn Johnson.

Frazier Campbell is an odd one, hasn't scored in his last three games so I struggle to see the reason.

I have to disagree about Carrick, I'm afraid. Parker is arguably the best English midfielder around at the moment, Milner is always solid and we all know that when the wind blows the right way for Gerrard, there's no one, certainly in England, better. I'd even place Barry ahead of Carrick too because, although he's unspectacular, he's possibly the best defensive English midfielder around. Plus I'd go even further and say Lampard is ahead of Carrick, yet it's pretty clear his days is done for the England set up (although 'Arry will probably fancy his old boy at the finals, which actually may work for Carrick). You have to remember, whilst United have one of the solidest defences (albeit with a dodgy keeper behind them), arguably the best wingers and Rooney which accounts for their league position, their midfield hasn't had any real quality since Keane faded away and Scholes came back in. Everyone knows that United's biggest weakness is in the centre of the park; that to nullify their attacking threat, you must hassle and boss the central midfield. Carrick stands out due to the lack of quality in that department but it's not unfair to say that if he was at Chelsea, Liverpool or City, he'd be a squad player and nothing more...

Anyhow, enough bashing of my 'beloved' United!  I often like to beat the 'I'm Welsh' drum, so my interest in England has always been casual (although in '90, it would have taken an ardent non-English Brit not to back them... After Ireland went out, at least!), but I feel that so many wrongs of the English national side now have an opportunity to finally be put right. Seeing Ferdinand and Lampard going the way of Beckham is a sign (admittedly a false one as this is likely to be Pearce's only game in charge), that they're finally moving on from that 'golden generation' bull that never alluded to the over-hyped millionaire rich kids that expected to turn up and win games, until the last World Cup which should them up gloriously.

The Ox is probably a little too inexperienced to make the cut for the Euros, but with him in the wings, Wilshire coming back one day and the likes of Walker, Jones, Cleverley, Smalling, Adam Johnson, Walcott, Sturridge and Welbeck already established, I'd say the clouds could be lifting from the perennial underachievers which England have been for a long, long time.

As for other things about this squad, of course you need Glenn Johnson - his experience is now vital. He's been one of the better Liverpool performers for the last few seasons and is always a threat. Even if Walker is arguably ahead of him in the pecking order, he's an important part of the next few England campaigns. As for Richards, his versatility suggests he'll be more a Centre-half than a right back, but it's still good to have three decent options in that area. As for Downing, I agree he's not done enough to earn his place, yet his experience, left foot and recent signs he's turning the corner at Liverpool suggests he's not finished for a while either.

If anyone should be gutted, it should be Peter Crouch. Although he's probably has just this one last tournament in him, I'd have him over Welbeck or Campbell. How many pacy, up-and-coming Strikers do you need? I don't see the point of having Welbeck, Sturridge and Campbell in the same squad, considering Bent is also in there. He may not be pretty but Crouch is at least a different option up front, and his sheer mass always scares international opposition hence why I think he's got such a great strike-rate for England. Welbeck and Frazier's time will come, but one should be left behind in favour of a plan 'B'. And finish by leaving myself open for some flaming, I'd even take Carroll ahead of one of those two for the same reason I'd take Crouch. There's even signs Carroll is regaining some form so he can't be ignored.

Under 21's

Ben Amos (Manchester United), Jack Butland (Cheltenham Town - loan from Birmingham City), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)

Joe Bennett (Middlesbrough), Ryan Bennett (Peterborough United - loan from Norwich City), Steven Caulker (Swansea City - loan from Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion), Martin Kelly (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Adam Smith (Leeds United - loan from Tottenham Hotspur) 

Gary Gardner (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Henri Lansbury (West Ham United - loan from Arsenal), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Josh McEachran (Swansea City - loan from Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Cameron Stewart (Hull City), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) 

Nathan Delfouneso (Leicester City - loan from Aston Villa), Will Keane (Manchester United), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers), Connor Wickham (Sunderland) 

I honestly think if I have to explain to someone why Carrick should be picked it's a waste of time, seriously. 

He's arguably been United's best player this season, miles ahead of Barry, Milner and a different player to Parker. I don't want to sound all 'forum-like' but if you think Carrick would be a squad player at another top team then you're clueless.

United have not had a settled defence this season, that's been our main issue and without Carrick we'd have been right up shit creek. So to suggest the opposite seems to point alarmingly that you don't watch him. 

Richards won't be a centre-back, he's a right back who can cover at CB. I reckon it's Richards-Walker-Johnson in that order. And seeing as Smalling and Jones can play RB, I see little point in including Johnson. 

Of course, I bow to your superior knowledge regarding Carrick as it's obvious you spend way more time watching him that I do! 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's a bad player; I just don't think he's capable enough at this level to be important. In my opinion, there's better players and options in that department for England. You're probably right that he's miles ahead of Barry this season, although Milner is a default England player who is not only versatile, but also proven to put in a consistent shift for England whenever called upon (in many ways just like Barry).

Yes, I have noticed United's defence have been a lot more fragile than usual this season, but I'd say that's more down to blooding in new players and losing key figures in VDS and Vidic. You often felt that when the United defence was penetrated in the past, VDS would usually be there to get them out of jail, yet it's fair to say that's now become United's main area of concern (GK that is). I guess Carrick has had to stand up in the absence of those two and do his best to plug the holes, which is great but not necessarily the reason why he should be picked.

I will stand by my conviction that Carrick would be behind Silva, Barry and Milner at City, Meireles, (a fit) Essien, Ramires and Lampard at Chelsea and Gerrard, (a fit) Lucas, Adam and Henderson at Liverpool. Even Arsenal, I'd suggest, would have (a fit) Ramsey, (a fit) Wilshire, Arteta and Song above him, and I won't waste listing space regarding the best central-midfield combinations at Spurs who are arguably ahead of everyone in that department. Carrick is a good player, but - like I mentioned - someone I think best out of a pretty mediocre bunch at United.

I agree that Richards' best position is at Right-back, but with Walker and Johnson there, it would make more sense to employ him in his similarly proficient position in the centre of defence. With only Cahill, Jones and Smalling selected, and no Ferdinand, that's the telling reason for me.

Carrick would be ahead of Barry and Milner at City easily, he's just the player Mancini would want. This is bit like trying to explain to someone the world isn't flat. ;)

He'd start for Chelsea and to compare him to Henderson or Adam is simply farcical. Honestly, it is. The guy is probably United's POTY so far and there are reasons for this, chiefly that he's a very good player playing very well. Adam and Henderson are not even close to him. 

He'd be above Arteta and Song at Arsenal too.

I could get the stats out but, again, shouldn't have to and stats aren't conclusive.

United's midfield isn't quite as mediocre as made out and even with the addition many fans want, I highly doubt it would be Carrick who would be replaced. 

I admit I did regret naming Henderson and Song above him, as I think he is a better player than those two, although it's an 'agree to disagree' on other points.

The Henderson quip was more my thinking that we're moving in the youth development area; therefore Henderson has probably had more games for us than expected due to his transfer, combined with Gerrard's and Lucas' injuries this season. His extended run is a bit of a blessing for us because it will surely be beneficial for us next season thanks to the experience he's picking up from competing at this particular level with greater competition in the squad. He has improved a lot over the season and becoming a starting XI regular, hence my thought path on that one. Song, well, yes, that was misguided!

As for Adam, well, he'd probably be ahead of him too. Adam's split a lot of us; mainly because he's still trying to run the show as he did at Blackpool and his extravagant desire for that $1m pass or shot does annoy us. But he's a different player to Carrick (as is Mereiles, Silva, Modric, etc) so I think he'd be a little higher up in our pecking order due to his attempts at something different to unlock the opposition.

I rate Milner so I'll put him above many midfielders to be fair. As for Barry, I think he's useful, if not the player he was, although he still seems to be doing a sound job at City, even if he's a little overshadowed by the more flamboyant players. He is, however, a consistent player for England and that's why I think he's not losing his England place for the foreseeable.

To reiterate, I still think Carrick is a good player, and I'm sure, by your appraisal, he has been one of United's better players this year, yet I still think there's better English players than him in that position. If we looked at other positions, then it's fair to say Rooney would be head and shoulders above everyone else, Hart likewise, because there's not as much quality in those areas. For me, the England players named in midfield (along with Wilshire and Lampard) are better than Carrick. Just my opinion, so I'm arguing for it rather than trying to prove you wrong. Like I think Johnson should be in the England squad and in with a good shout at being the main RB, based on the  games I've seen him play for Liverpool, it's a personal bias...

One thing I agree with you on is about stats. I hate the way they're relied on so heavily these days to 'win' arguments, because they are inconclusive and unrepresentative of so many factors. I remember  John Barnes in his latter years with us (I could say Scholes, but I'm trying to keep the peace!). He used to complete nigh on 100+ passes every game, with a great % success rate. What stats don't tell you were that they were usually swift, several metre passes along the midfield or with the back line with no fear of interception; therefore unrepresentative of a killer ball, or an attempt of a killer ball which disturb the opposition defence and be far more damaging to the psychology of the opposing team in fear of another one coming soon after.

Besides, the only 'stats' I really pay attention to normally come after 90 minutes, and that is about the number of goals each team have. Furthermore, another thing I hate about stats is that they make people like Rat boy on Sky seem clever! Even more proof they distort things, if you ask me!

Anyhow, enough banter for now. I will say, though, if you think the world isn't flat - that's OK! Sometimes we have to make allowances for the stubborn other; especially when two of a similar sort collide!! ; )  (p.s, the world is spherical!)

Don't think Cleverley, Downing or Gerrard should be in the side.  F.Campbell as done well since coming back from injury but I would not have picked him either, you don't want him doing too much too soon.

The Ox would have been a consideration for me too.

I agree about Cleverley, think there's a real risk of over-hyping him before the praise is due. Similar to what happened with Jordan Henderson. 

Aside from Gerrard, I agree with everything you say. Gerrard hasn't had enough match time to have earnt his place, but (if he remains fit), he will be important to have at the Euros hence why I think he's in. Senior players are a lot thinner on the ground in this squad, so I think it's important to have at least one of the outgoing golden generation in there for their experience.

I'd love to see Ox get his chance before the Euros. It worked for Owen in '98, and that little rough, fearlessness of someone so young can really breathe life into a squad. I'd have him above Walcott (and definitely Downing, but I think he's there for - as alluded to - his left foot! This is a squad balance selection me thinks), so I hope he gets his chance.

Maybe Pearce wants to play 4-4-2 and thinks Carrick wouldn't cope too well in that formation. I always think Carrick works better either in a 3 man midfield or playing deeper in a 4-2-3-1. He's not good enough at tackling or dynamic enough to make much of an impact in a 4-4-2. In saying that it would be stupid to play 4-4-2 but this is Stuart Pearce we're talking about.


A three man midfield of Parker, Carrick and Gerrard looks like the way to go for England unless Cleverly finds some brilliant form in the next few months.


I won't even go in to the rest of the squad but there's a lot of strange choices in there.



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