Rooney Is England’s 6th Best Striker
England - Stage Of Elimination
Last weekend’s Premier League action provided much food for thought for England manager Roy Hodgson as his cohort of strikers enjoyed another fruitful day at the office ahead the Euros this summer.
Against Sunderland, man of the moment Jamie Vardy despatched both goals in Leicester’s ongoing march towards the sporting story of the century, while fit again Daniel Sturridge displayed his predatory instincts with a close range header to the dismay of Mark Hughes at Anfield.
Most intriguing though was the 10 minute hat-trick against Arsenal which has seen Andy Carroll stake a late claim for a spot in the queue at the Heathrow check-in desk before England board the plane to France.
Like Sturridge, Andy Carroll has endured a season hindered by injury, but his hat-trick was a timely reminder that the West Ham man provides the hefty target that no other English forward can offer.
Should the England manager require a desperate change in tactics late in games when behind or wish to rough up some Rolls Royce European defenders, big man Carroll fits the bill perfectly and his friskiness up front against Arsene’s Arsenal served as reminder that he retains the eye for goal which persuaded Kenny Dalglish to part with £35m of his transfer fund in January 2011.
Legendary England striker Alan Shearer insisted yesterday that Carroll’s injury record means Hodgson should ignore the clamour for his fellow citizen of the North East to be included, yet Carroll’s own assertion that he is ‘unplayable’ is sure to resonate with Hodgson should the England boss prefer to seat a variety of tactical options on his French bench, to call upon should they be needed.
It may mean a further headache for Hodgson as he scribbles his final selection and while Wayne Rooney’s reputation will save him from being scored out, our look at the season’s stats suggest his place in the starting line-up is threatened and not only by a resurgent Andy Carroll…
It may or may not come as a surprise that the Liverpool striker boasts the best minutes-per-goal ratio of the contenders for a spot in Roy Hodgson’s forward line. Sure, he’s played less minutes than the rest and his injury record is giving Santa Claus a run for his money in the days off work per year column, but it seems when he’s fit, he scores.
He was qualified to play for the Republic of Ireland, but the career path of the Spurs man means he looks a certain starter in England’s opener against Russia. He’s the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season and already has 4 England goals to his name at this early stage in his international career.
His minutes-per-goal ratio in the Premier League this season is a match for Jamie Vardy. The catch of course is that Carroll has only spent 963 minutes on the pitch to Vardy’s 2889, which is more than 3 times as much. Like Sturridge, he looks a big threat when fit so don’t rule out a seat on the plane just yet.
A guaranteed ticket goes to the main striker at the Champions elect. Vardy’s 21 goals have been a major force in Leicester’s unlikely heroics and the only question that remains is whether the Fleetwood Town recruit and his Premier League winners medal have to make do with a seat on the bench when whistle blows on England’s Euro campaign.
The ex-Man United forward underwent knee surgery in September and continues his premier League comeback between the bench and the pitch; he has yet to complete 90 minutes this season. But not only has Welbeck contributed 3 goals and an assist since his return, he offers defensive qualities like no other forward candidate and suits Hodgson’s preferred formation of 4-3-3.
The injury theme continues with the final contender for a spot in the Hodgson forward line. His past record and name alone guarantee that he will not be left behind, but his stats suggest his starting berth in England’s opener in Marseilles should be no such formality.
His ratio of a goal every 272 minutes for Manchester United this season puts him behind other compatriots who aren’t even in contention like Jermain Defoe, Connor Wickham and Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson. The latter’s return from injury may be of more interest to Martin O’Neill given his eligibility for the Irish.