England boss Fabio Capello has to ponder a selection headache at right-back

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This weekend sees Fabio Capello announce his squad for England’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Wales next Saturday.

While having to decide on a number of issues, such as who will replace the injured duo of Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand, one of the biggest dilemmas for the Italian is who he will name at right-back.

The position will take more precedence when considering that whoever fills the position will have to face up to Gareth Bale in what is sure to be a heated atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium.

Shouts From The Stands looks at the contenders for the right-back role, and who could be given the task of stopping Bale:

Glen Johnson – The Liverpool full-back has figured regularly in the England team under Capello under the past couple of years.

However, Johnson’s recent form, admittedly hampered by injury, has led to his place in the side coming under scrutiny.

There’s never been a doubt about his abilities going forward. It’s difficult trying to find a better attacking full-back in the Premier League.

But there have always been questions about his defensive game, and his recent performance up against Bale (Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in November) saw the Welshman cause the 26 year-old endless problems.

More recently, he has lost his place at right-back in the Liverpool side, with young Martin Kelly given the nod there and Johnson switching to left-back.

This change means it’s rather difficult to see someone who hasn’t featured regularly at right-back in recent weeks getting the nod ahead of English right-backs playing well at the moment.

 

Micah Richards – The Manchester City defender has impressed in recent weeks in the right-back role, making him favourite to get the nod on March 26th.

Richards has all the makings of the modern day defender; strong, athletic, sound defensively and good going forward.

The 22 year-old had cemented his place as England’s right-back under previous manager Steve McLaren before a slump in form saw him lose his place and fall out of national recognition.

He may not be as good as Johnson in an attacking sense but he is a better defender. He also provides a real threat from set-pieces, containing the ability of a thumping header, as shown against Reading last weekend.

If Capello goes with the all-round package from right-back, then it will surely be Richards that is given the chance.

 

Phil Neville – He may not have played for England since 2007, but if Capello seeks experience above all else, then the Everton defender has to be in contention.

Neville has performed consistently well since his move from Manchester United to Goodison Park in 2005, and has gone on to become the club captain under David Moyes.

It’s easy to see why; the 34 year-old not only offers a wealth of experience, but he also reads the game extremely well.

What may also work in Neville’s advantage are his performances against Bale this season; The 21 year-old didn’t get a sniff in either of the encounters between Spurs and the Toffees, and Capello surely will have taken note of that.

While he might not offer a lot in an attacking sense, his calm head and consistency in defence could put him in the frame.

 

Kyle Walker – The most unlikely of the right-back candidates, but the Tottenham defender has made incredible progress on his loan excursions this season.

Having spent the first half of the campaign terrorising Championship defenders with runaway leaders Queens Park Rangers, his temporary move to Aston Villa has shown he has what it takes in the Premier League.

The 20 year-old has won plaudits for his strong runs down the line, as well as providing goal-scoring opportunities from these surges forward.

On top of that, he has matured considerably defensively over the last several months and his current form is as good as those aforementioned.

However, what will count against Walker is that despite being called up for the last England squad in the friendly against Denmark, he has yet to play at International level.

While he has done so well to get into contention, it seems that Walker will only get a chance if injury restricts the likes of Richards, Johnson and Neville.

So what do you think? Who do you think will get the right-back slot against Wales? Do you think it should be someone not mentioned, such as Wes Brown? Let us know your thoughts

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