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Terry plunge suggests Smalling’s in the World Cup firing line

| 20.01.2014

News that John Terry’s odds to make England’s 2014 World Cup squad were cut into 3/1 from 6/1 following a mammoth bet will be giving Manchester United centre-half Chris Smalling sleepless nights.

Somebody clearly knows something, as a £1000 wager – over 100 times the average stake for this market – was placed on the former England captain coming out of retirement ahead of the summer jamboree and forcing his way into coach Roy Hodgson’s 23-man touring party.

That could spell bad news for former Maidstone United youth Smalling, who’s struggled for game-time at the champions in recent weeks following a number of high-profile mistakes since the start of the campaign.

The 24-year-old was partly to blame for Manchester City’s first goal in Manuel Pellegrini’s side’s 4-1 derby win against their neighbours back in September and had a shocker in United’s FA Cup third-round home loss against Swansea recently.

He was caught in no-man’s land when Wilfried Bony powered home a 90th-minute winner past Anders Lindegaard and the nine-cap England man was benched for two of his side’s next three games, with boss David Moyes welcoming back Jonny Evans at centre-half.

More worrying for Three Lions chief Hodgson was Smalling’s failure to track Per Mertesacker prior to the Arsenal giant’s winning header in Germany’s 1-0 friendly triumph at Wembley, which led to widespread criticism of the Red Devils defender’s performance.

It’s fair to assume that Smalling is still odds-on at 4/6 to go to Brazil due to his versatility, as he often fills in at full-back for his club, but fellow United and England centre-half Phil Jones can also play in both roles as well as cover in midfield.

First-choice pairing Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka will travel to South America if fit but aside from Terry, Hodgson has few other options in the position.

Man City pair Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards are priced up at 6/5 and 7/2 respectively to make the squad, but they haven’t started 10 games between them in the Premier League this term and both may need loan moves away from the 19/20 title favourites this month to get into the reckoning.

With that in mind, Cardiff’s Steven Caulker – whose £8m move to Wales from Spurs last July shocked many – looks good value for an England recall and a place on the plane at 5/1, having started all of the Bluebirds’ top-flight matches this term, scoring two goals in the process.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune