Saturday, September 30, 2006

Scotty beamed up

Congratulations to Toon captain Scott Parker, recalled to the England squad for the forthcoming European Championship qualifying games against Macedonia and Croatia.

It may ultimately be the consequence of Owen Hargreaves' leg break, but Parker shouldn't just be considered the beneficiary of someone else's misfortune - this recall is richly deserved and long overdue. Parker has carried on this season where he left off last term - driving the team forward and setting the standard for his colleagues to emulate in characteristically all-action fashion. It's a measure of just how good he's been that Shearer hasn't been missed, as a captain at least.

So, will Parker play? I certainly hope so. He's both a better player and in better form than our whingeing old boy Jermaine Jenas, but his main rival for Hargreaves' position is Michael Carrick. Both play in a deep-lying midfield role, bursting forwards on occasion, but otherwise they're very different types of players. Carrick is a skilful passer and very elegant on the ball, whereas Parker, though his passing isn't at all shoddy, is more of a terrier, not afraid of a tackle and working tirelessly on and off the ball for the side.

As such, Parker would make a more obvious direct replacement for Hargreaves. At home to Macedonia Steve McLaren might feel a defensively minded midfielder would not necessarily be needed, but in Croatia I'd hope Captain Scott would get the nod.

And if you do, Scott, just don't get injured...


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