Friday, 18 February 2011

Why Kevin Davies should be in contention for the England Squad

Darren Bent, Steven Gerrard, Emile Heskey, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. These are just some of the names of players who have played alongside Wayne Rooney under Fabio Capello. Its clear Capello prefers to have another striker playing along side Rooney. Your probably thinking, why have I added Steven Gerrard in the opening sentence, as he isn’t a striker. However, Capello tried to play Gerrard in his Liverpool role. The role he used to occupy behind the former Liverpool star Fernando Torres. However, Fabio Capello predominantly prefers to play with two strikers upfront. And to extend this, Capello prefers England to play with one natural finisher, Wayne Rooney. And the second striker being a target man. Yet there is one man who is suitable for the seccond striker role. But he has never been given a proper chance.

The second striker role has recently been changed by Fabio Capello. In England’s last game against Denmark, Rooney lined up along side Bent. Both strikers are natural finishers. Who have both proven at the Premier League level they can be trusted to score consistently. Okay, Rooney hasn’t had the best few months in the Premier League. But look at his record last year when he scored 26 Premier League goals. And even the year before that. It’s very impressive. Of course he can be trusted to finish.

Its apparent Capello would prefer to play a target man alongside Rooney. Hence why the likes of Darren Bent were left out of South Africa for Emile Heskey. Despite the fact Bent scored 24 Premier League goals that season. Heskey on the other hand, mustered 5 goals in all competitions for Aston Villa. The decision to take Heskey over Bent quite rightly made the England fans gaze around in confusion.

Fabio Capello’s England vision was probably in taters, after Heskey decided to call it a day on his England career after the embarrassing World Cup campaign. Since then Capello still hasn’t fancied Peter Crouch playing as the target man alongside Rooney. The Italian should give this strike force a try. Simply because Crouch has a brilliant England goal scoring record. 22 goals in 44 caps is very impressive. The record shows Crouch has the pedigree to score on the international stage. But Capello would rather the target man having the physical strength to hold up the ball. Something which Crouch doesn’t offer effectively.

Kevin Davies, 33, became the oldest England debutant in October 2010. Yet Kevin Davies should have been capped far more earlier. He is the one of the best target men in the Premier League. It seems Davies abilities continually goes unnoticed by the England. Davies can offer everything Heskey offered and more. Logically, this should be Capello’s dream.

The Bolton skipper is fantastic in the air. He can contest with most defenders and win the ball. However, the most practical aspect of Davies ability in the air, is that he can flick it on very effectively. This has served Bolton very well in the past and still does. This attribute would be a valuable asset for England. The likes of Rooney would be find pockets of space, of which Davies could flick into. One of Heskey’s duties in the England team was to win headers and to flick onto the central midfielders or the wingers. But by the time Heskey had jumped, the ball was already flying past his head. It’s something which most defiantly frustrated the England fans and arguably the players too. But with Kevin Davies he has proved at a consistent level for Bolton that with his flick on’s he can link the midfield and attack. Of course, some will turn around and say, ‘doing this on the international stage is different, there is more expectation.’ I couldn’t agree more. But Kevin Davies is an experienced professional, who is proven to be a success at his trade. One mustn’t forget Kevin Davies is the captain of Bolton. This means he can handle the pressure and expectations. He wouldn’t be captain if couldn’t set the standard or if he couldn’t cope with the expectations.

Davies fantastic heading ability would also be an advantage for set pieces. The Bolton skipper has shown his capability to scoring with his head. This doesn’t just boil down to set pieces, Davies in open play can be a goal scoring threat with his aerial poweress too. This is something a majority of the recent England strikers have lacked.

Since Owen Coyle has taken the helm at Bolton, Kevin Davies has expanded his game even more. It’s clear that Kevin Davies is far more competent and comfortable with the ball at his feet too. Davies has been effectively threading through balls into his strikers and midfielders with great effect. I have even seen him executing some brilliant audacious chips when the opposition defence is pressuring. England need someone like this. They need someone who has the creative nous and the ability to implement it. Most of the England’s strikers have been missing this part to their game. Of course, Wayne Rooney can do this, but Rooney is far more dangerous when he is playing as the most progressive striker. Rooney would benefit greatly if Kevin Davies could hold the ball up and then thread a ball into him. It relives the pressure on Rooney. As it means Rooney doesn’t need to come deep to get the ball.

Davies’ creativity wouldn’t just be a benefit for Rooney. The other England strikers would benefit too. The likes of Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe are goal poachers who are receptive to recognising openings and half chances. Look at Johan Elmander, who is now amongst the goals for Bolton. Kevin Davies’ service has been a contributing factor to Elmander’s good form.

What makes Kevin Davies so suitable for being a target man is because he is physically very strong. This assists him because it makes him harder to defend against. It helps him hold up the ball, as the defenders simply cannot barge him out of the way, he will fight for the ball. This makes Davies so difficult to play against because he is strong enough to keep the ball, thus allowing the midfielders to progress forward. Arguably, this should appeal to Fabio Capello. As Peter Crouch whose England record speaks for it’s self doesn’t really get a look in because he lacks the strength to hold the ball up.

The finishing abilities of Davies are decent. He isn’t the most clinical striker in the world or the most natural finisher. But he makes up for that with his tenacity and commitment. One thing Kevin Davies can never be questioned on is his work ethic. He is a hard working player who wants to make things happen for his team.

Maybe for Kevin Davies is unfortunate. In the sense that he was a late bloomer in the world of football. He began to show his quality from the age of 28 and by the time he was 30 he was seen as a fantastic Premier League player. But at the age of 33, it’s sad to say, his chances of getting into the England team are extremely limited because of his age. One must consider, Emile Heskey is only three months older than Davies. Yet Heskey was given so much prominence in Fabio Capello’s plans. I’m confident if you asked who’s a better target man, Heskey or Davies, a majority would say Davies. Is Davies unlucky because Heskey is deemed to have more experience as he has played for Liverpool and won trophies. Whereas Davies hasn’t played at the top four level of the Premier League. I don’t think it’s a valid excuse, but how many times have good players at the ‘smaller clubs’ been over looked by players who maybe aren’t as good but are at the bigger clubs? It’s just insane how people like Kevin Davies are continually overlooked.

One may argue Davies was given his chance in October 2010. But it seems Capello picked him because there was a striker crisis not because he seriously trusted his abilities. Furthermore, had Capello trusted Davies he could of started him or kept him in the squad for the next international games to give him a proper chance. Most will agree that a mere 20 minutes isn't enough for a player to prove his worth on the international stage.

Age really shouldn’t be an issue. As he clearly has the attributes to be a successful target man for England. If he was let’s say 22, I’m sure he would be in contention for the England team. But I don’t want to get all philosophical. It’s a shame, it really is England’s loss.

Ask any Premier League fan on their thoughts on Kevin Davies, a majority will show their appreciation for his abilities.

It’s just so ironic how he never gets a look into the national team.

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