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Wright-Phillips earns victory over Walcott in battle of the wide men

| 01.06.2010

Theo Walcott, England’s hat-trick hero in Croatia during World Cup qualification, has been sensationally dropped from the 23-man squad to take part in the tournament proper.

Boss Fabio Capello has plumped for the more skilfully-adept Manchester City player Shaun Wright-Phillips over Arsenal’s rapid winger, leaving Sven Goran Eriksson’s surprise 2006 inclusion equally as shocked this time round.

Sunderland’s prolific striker Darren Bent and City’s other wide-man Adam Johnson were also left at home despite having impressive seasons for their clubs; Bent notched 24 league goals in his first season on Wearside and Johnson actually dislodged Wright-Phillips in Roberto Mancini’s side.

So what does Capello’s decision on his attacking options mean for England’s goal chances at the World Cup?

From the four recognised forwards England have a total of 64 international goals, shared between: Jermain Defoe, 11 goals in 40 internationals; Peter Crouch, 21 goals in 38; Emile Heskey, seven in 58; and Wayne Rooney 25 goals from 58 games. Darren Bent meanwhile hadn’t hit the back of the net in six outings for his country.

In major tournaments it’s less rosy though. Rooney exploded onto the inetrnational scene with four goals at Euro 2004, but failed to score in 2006, Heskey managed a goal in the round of 16 match against Denmark in the 2002 World Cup, and Crouch notched one against Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage at the last World Cup.

With that record it’s easy to see why Rooney is favourite to finish the country’s top scorer at the tournament, at 11/8. But with Crouch’s remarkable record at this level a bet on him at 5/1. If Defoe could reproduce his early-season Spurs form then you could chance an outside bet at 8/1.
It’s highly unlikely that Heskey (at 10/1) will hit the back of the net more times than anyone else though. He’s outscored on the international stage by Paraguay goalkeeper Hugo Chilavert and only bagged five goals for Aston Villa this season.

It’s clear that despite Capello’s declaration he would only pick form players, Heskey is there to supplement Wayne Rooney’s attacking prowess, who scored nine in nine during qualification, largely being partnered by the Villa man.

Another avenue open to betting potential is the total goals market. In their last two World Cups England have been pretty consistent scoring wise, grabbing disappointing totals of six goals in five matches each time.

A bet on 6-7 goals scored at 4/1 seems tempting, but if you feel they might reproduce the attacking exploits of 2004 – when Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were all at their best in England’s total of 10 in four – then putting money on 10-11 goals at 7/2 would be the one to go for.

How will England’s attack of Rooney, Crouch, Heskey and Defoe fare? See the full England Specials market.



John Klee