Tag Archive: Daniel Sturridge

It is clear that England have a shortage of top class strikers at the moment. With Wayne Rooney constantly struggling to re-produce his club form for the national team, and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck lacking experience on the international stage; there is an opening for forwards to stake a claim to be a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s future squads.

The Likes of Grant Holt, anyone who follows Premier League news  will have seen that he bagged 15 League goals in his debut Premier League season last year for Norwich City, and Danny Graham at Swansea City have consistently been overlooked for a place in the Three Lions squad despite performing superbly for their Club sides.

But another man who has not as yet been given a look in is Gary Hooper at Celtic. The Harlow born front man has been nothing short of a goal machine for the Bhoys after making a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United back in 2010.

Since then, Hooper has netted over half a century goals for the Hoops and his manager, Neil Lennon, has urged England to give him a chance.  His blistering form has led to both Scotland and Wales making enquires over whether the 24 year old could be eligible to play for them, but such a turnover of goals should have caught the attention of Roy Hodgson.

Many sceptics will point to the fact that Hooper has been plying his trade at a relatively poor standard in the SPL,  but the ball still needs putting in the back of the net; no matter what level you play – and Hooper does that better than most.

What’s more, he has dealt with the pressure of playing for one of Britain’s biggest club’s in the shape of Celtic and thrived on the atmosphere. The prospect of playing for his country in front of big crowds is something that is unlikely to faze him and natural born goal scorers will always have that ability to create something out of nothing.

If you like a football bet , you will see that Hooper is the favourite to be the leading scorer in the SPL this campaign.

It would be great to see players rewarded for their league form, no matter who they play for, with international friendlies offering the perfect chance to try out new faces. In the shape of Hooper, England may have a predatory forward on their hands; but they will never know unless they give him a chance to prove his worth.

By Andrew Ward


By Laurie Fitzgerald

England prepare to take on the Netherlands at Wembley tomorrow on the back of a hugely eventful last few weeks in the set-up of the national side.

Fabio Capello is no longer in charge after the Italian resigned following the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, with his impending court case for charges of racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand not due to take place until after Euro 2012.

So with no permanent captain and no permanent manager in place, Stuart Pearce has taken temporary charge while the FA decide who is the best choice to take the side to Poland & Ukraine this summer.

The Under-21 boss has picked a few fresh faces within the squad for tomorrow’s game, as the likes of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley find themselves gaining international recognition.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After today’s games we will have our third international break of the season, despite the fact we are only at the beginning of November.

This two-week gap has been introduced primarily for the Euro 2012 play-offs to decide who grabs the remaining four places in Poland & Ukraine next summer.

For the rest of the European nations that are not participating in these matches, they have had to fill their open window with friendlies against one another.

However, while I would usually view these like the majority of the public (i.e. a waste of time and worrying about potential injuries to your club players) I am actually grateful for this upcoming fortnight.

This is all because of one petulant swipe by a particular Liverpudlian striker that has put a huge cloud over England’s chances in the finals next June.

Wayne Rooney‘s lash at defender Miodrag Dzudovic with around 15 minutes remaining in the 2-2 draw against Montenegro last month resulted in the maximum three-match ban handed to the Manchester United forward.

It means he will now miss the entire group stage of the competition, leaving Capello with a major headache in the absence of the country’s biggest attacking threat.

Now Capello needs to use next Saturday’s game at home to Spain and another trip to Wembley to face Sweden the following Tuesday to identify who will step up in Rooney’s absence.

There are plenty of options at the Italian’s disposal to try and find not only someone that can carry a similar goal threat to Rooney, but also one that can be placed in the adopted systems of the Three Lions‘ successful qualifying campaign.

Throughout those matches Capello used two particular systems – a 4-2-3-1 mainly used in trickier games and a 4-3-3 used in fixtures that the side were expected to win at a canter.

In both of those formations, Rooney was the pivotal threat on the front foot, with the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing providing the ammunition and running support for the 26 year-old.

The main candidates will probably be given a chance in the upcoming friendlies when Capello names his squad this evening.

Current favourites include Aston Villa’s Darren Bent, who is more comfortable playing in those kind of formations instead of alongside someone up front, as well as Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe.

What makes these particular games even more ideal is the difference in quality between the two sides, both of which will be at the European Championships.

Whilst Sweden will be a team people will expect England to defeat, current World and European champions Spain will be a side the public will at best hope to get the better of.

They are the different types of teams that are set to await us at the group stage alone, let alone the difference in quality that should be expected the further we progress in the tournament.

Therefore both of Capello’s adopted systems post-World Cup can be tried and tested in the next ten days and find out who can fit in the system to help us first and foremost get into the knockout stages of next summer’s tournament.

So while many may view these friendlies as an inconvenient interruption to what is becoming another enthralling Premier League season, they could ultimately prove crucial to finding a long-term solution to relying on one extremely gifted but temperamentally unpredictable player.

What do you think? How important could these friendlies be to England’s chances at Euro 2012? Who is the player that should be Rooney’s replacement in the group stages? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

Referee Mike Jones followed the letter of the law in booking Tamir Cohen on Sunday

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Amongst the joy and despair following Bolton’s late winner against Arsenal on Saturday, there was a genuine lack of common sense provided by the man in the middle.

When Tamir Cohen struck with his 90th minute header, he removed his shirt to reveal a top underneath that had the face of his late father, former Liverpool defender Avi Cohen.

It was the 27 year-old’s first goal since his father’s tragic passing in December, and the emotion was clear to see on the Israeli international.

Unfortunately, Premier League rules state that players who remove their shirt in a goal celebration must be booked as punishment for an inappropriate reaction to a goal.

Referee Mike Jones decided that a player showing such a personal message in such an emotional moment should be ‘punished’ for such an action.

It was a shame that Jones did not avoid such jobsworth-like qualities and while Cohen’s shirt-removal was pre-determined, it was for a genuine heartfelt reason.

However, it’s difficult to criticise Jones for deciding to show the yellow card, purely on the basis that referees are always meant to implement the rules, whether or not they agree with it.

The performances of referees are evaluated every game, and a rating is given based on how they have stuck to the laws of the game.

Therefore it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Jones was in fact reprimanded had he not booked Cohen. While not showing a yellow card would have been the correct decision in the eyes of logic, the rules state that it’s the wrong one.

So surely it’s about time the Premier League decide to get rid of this particular rule. Booking a player for showing over-exuberance in a celebration is unnecessary.

It doesn’t offend anyone watching, such as swearing into a camera a la Wayne Rooney, so why should players be told to contain themselves in this way?

There would also be an understanding to caution a celebrating player if they decided to jump into the crowd, as that could be dangerous to themselves or a spectator.

But this celebration is neither offensive nor dangerous, and having a punishment that is the equivalent of a tackle that could break someone’s leg borders on the ridiculous.

Unfortunately this argument has existed for years now, and this debate only repeats what many have argued since the punishment was introduced to the rulebook.

Hopefully, the latest debacle of this ruling will make people at the Premier League re-evaulate a law that simply doesn’t need to be in place.

So what do you think? Is it necessary to book players for removing their shirts in a goal celebration? Does it offend you? Let us know your thoughts.

By Tony Alvarez

With the club sitting in 8th place in the league, you would assume everything is all rosey for the Lancashire club.

The club are in absolutely no danger of getting relegated, playing an attractive brand of Football and are only a few points off a place that will guarantee European Football next season.

 However things are not as brilliant as they appear at first glimpse,  for me Bolton have move past the level of a club that is threatened to be relegated so should not be proud of being well clear of the danger zone, this is a point I am sure ambitious manager Owen Coyle would share.

 Recent form has been nothing quite short of awful for a team with the ambitions of Bolton, picking up only two wins in their last 9 league outings is more likely to drag them back towards the drop zone rather than towards a European place.

 Another problem is that Swedish Striker Johan Elmander the clubs leading scorer this season seems to have rediscovered his abysmal goal scoring record of last season and hasn’t hit the back of the net since boxing day, Coyle quickly moved to address is this problem in signing Chelsea youngster Daniel Sturridge on loan in the transfer window, he has scored two in two and looks impressive but further problems lie ahead.

Elmander’s contract is up at the end of the season and a few clubs have shown an interest following his early season form at the moment all the signs point to a free transfer away from the club in the summer. Daniel Sturridge has already stated he sees his future at Chelsea which makes it unlikely he will be at Bolton beyond his current loan spell which is up at the end of the season.

This will leave the club in a tough position with only the ageing Kevin Davies as the only striker in their squad with any Premier League pedigree, although I am personally a big fan of Ivan Klasnic injuries have hampered his time in England and he hasn’t been able to prove he is regularly up to the rigours of the Premier League.

 Although Bolton have never been a club afraid to spend if they feel the need to, it would take big money to get the type of player they need to push on to the next level.

I personally see a finish outside of the European places for Bolton this season, around a 9th place finish and although I know Coyle is very shrewd in the transfer market I think he will find it hard to attract the calibre of player they need to raise Bolton’s level.

I can see the club settling down as the middle of the road Premier League side never in danger of relegation but just as unlikely to break the top 4/5.

For years Bolton fans would of snapped your hand off if you offered them this position so not many will be too disheartened, however after coming so far I am sure many would love to see a lot more from their side.

What do you think? Where will Bolton finish this season? Will Elmander be gone in the summer? Can you see the club attracting the type of player needed to reach the next level? Are Bolton fans happy to be considered a comfortable mid table side?

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