Friday, February 17, 2006


Which Hammers will Sven pick?

There's been a lot of talk lately about West Ham players potentially being called up for the World Cup. Well, with my very limited knowledge of the other England contenders, I've decided to look into the contenders and see how the Hammers shape up. (Warning: your results may vary. That's what the comment button is for!)

Anton Ferdinand: Faces a lot of competition for this position, although Sol Campbell might be doubtful at this rate. Not likely to be called up ahead of Rio, John Terry, and Woodgate, partly due to his inexperience, but has a slight chance thanks to some superb performances. Also an outside chance of being used in the right-back position.

Paul Konchesky: A very good chance. Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge are his main rivals but is in with a decent shot at making the squad, if not the starting XI. The fact that he can also play left midfield is a big plus.

Matty Etherington: This is a tough one. Who knows what Sven wants to do in midfield, but if he goes the sensible option of Lampard/Gerrard together in the middle, then Matty mostly faces competition from guys like Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips. He's never made the England squad before and this will count against him, but I reckon he's got a pretty good chance, especially if he keeps up the good work he's done of late. He's proven his Premiership ability, has been tough and consistent, and is in the Actim Stats squad of the season so far.

Hayden Mullins: If Sven can't get Lampard and Gerrard to work together properly in midfield, he may slot Gerrard on the left and play a holding midfielder - I think he's got Ledley King in mind for this, or maybe Mick Carrick, but it's certainly a job that correlates with Hayden's CV. At any rate there are always a few "hangers-on" in the squad and Hayden might just make it. He's been the quiet achiever this season, and for that reason may not have caught Sven's eye, but in my mind he is definitely up to the job.

Nigel Reo-Coker: Probably one of the best contenders. The youngster has been in the spotlight for much of the season - and we've all seen his opening goal time and time again on the telly. A so-called "born leader" (I'm getting sick of hearing it, frankly), NRC certainly puts himself in prime position to be picked, with his impressive work rate and natural skill. Like Hayden, his biggest problem lies in getting ahead of Lampard and Gerrard in the pecking order, but again, NRC might find himself in the tail end of the squad.

Marlon Harewood: If Owen is fit - and probably will be - Harewood doesn't stand a chance of pushing him and Rooney aside for a starting place, but due to his ability to play on the right side of midfield as well as his habit of, well, scoring goals, the big man might just find himself receiving a phone call from Sven. The odds aren't great but you never know.

Dean Ashton: A real, tangible chance at this stage of the season. With everything to prove, and tons of natural ability, Dean might just prove a black sheep in the running. He has a few months to force himself into the reckoning. He and Marlon are up against some really tough competition though.

Summary: For my money I reckon the best chances are NRC and Konchesky. However, all of the players on this list are in with a chance. Every four years there are a couple of surprise choices, wild-cards if you will, in the squad. With any luck there will be a couple of West Ham faces in the squad, who might just get their chance on the world stage.

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