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West Ham striker remains England’s greatest Euro 2016 conundrum

| 14.04.2016

When England’s chosen 23-man party board the plane to France this summer it could be wise to reserve a seat with extra leg room and not just for 6ft 5” goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Just an inch shorter than England’s number one, Andy Carroll is on the taller side for an outfield footballer.

It’s this physical stature (he’s no skinny rake either) that marks the West Ham striker out as something entirely different from the group of other centre-forwards, extremely talented though they are, that England manger Roy Hodgson is mulling over ahead of Euro 2016.

Those frontmen include the Premier League’s leading scorers, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, England captain Wayne Rooney, Hodgson stalwart Danny Welbeck and prolific-if-fit Daniel Sturridge, without even tossing Theo Walcott or emerging Manchester United star Marcus Rashford into the pot.

Carroll is widely regarded as the best exponent of a header in the Premier League and a recent spate of scoring has thrown the debate wide open about his potential inclusion at another major tournament.

Those with reasonably sound memories will remember the Gateshead native setting England on their way to a 3-2 win over Sweden in the group stages of Euro 2012 under Hodgson, though his injury-prone nature saw him fall way out of contention for the intervening World Cup.

It’s a divisive issue, of that there is no question. There are those who regard the mere mention of Carroll’s name being in the frame as sacrilege given the rich stocks at present.

The 27-year-old is particularly injury prone as alluded to above, has never been prolific despite Liverpool shelling out £35m for him in 2011, and has picked up the reputation as a play-boy.

Yet, even after digestion of these bad points, there is something about the sight of Carroll leaping like a salmon (and taking out three defenders in the process) before angling a powerful header into the net, that resonates.

His Premier League hat-trick for West Ham against Arsenal was a case in point. The likes of France centre-back Laurent Koscielny, a plausible Euro 2016 opponent, seemed powerless to aerially compete with the Irons hotshot.

As his club manager Slaven Bilic has been keen to convey amid the fresh praise of his player, Carroll is not a one-trick pony either.

It’s a cliché, but he’s pretty skilful for a big guy and has a weapon of a left foot at his disposal. Barring injury to one of the other five more mobile strikers it would be a massive call for Hodgson to pick him however.

Ironically his fate may lie in the hands of an injury to one of his competitors. In this respect, Sturridge is the most likely fall guy, though some doubters over the Liverpool man’s attitude would sooner see Carroll replace him, period.

In a circumstance where England are desperate for a goal at the Euros, throwing Carroll on to is a very appealing Plan B.

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



Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.