Paul Parker

Forget about Euro 2012, Fabio

Paul Parker

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I read some quotes from Fabio Capello saying England can win Euro 2012 and nearly burst out laughing. Does anyone honestly think we can overhaul Spain, Holland and Germany within two years?

Instead he should look to the longer term and build a team for the 2014 World Cup. Now is the time to look beyond the present players and give the next generation a chance to settle into the team.

If it means we do not do well at the Euros - or even fail to qualify - then so be it. It will be a sacrifice worth making.

It doesn't mean we have to get rid of all the senior players. I would keep the likes of Steven Gerrard, and those from whom the youngsters can learn good habits. But there are certain others whom I will not name that set a bad example and should not be around the England team any more.

Gerrard can maybe play a little deeper, surrounded by quicker, more energetic players - not Gareth Barry who was painfully slow in South Africa. Let Gerrard do what Ballack did before the World Cup to help the present German side come through.

Up front, Emile Heskey has done the decent thing and retired from international football, saving Fabio Capello the job of dropping him.

Heskey is an honest player who never deserved the scorn aimed at him from fans and parts of the media, but his presence in the England team for 11 years shows you that we have not moved forward as a country.

I would have loved to have played in the England team for 11 years but there was competition for places. Lee Dixon came through, then Gary Neville. Better players came in and the team moved forward.

But the fact that Heskey has been part of the furniture for so long tells you that either the fresh talent is not there or it is not being given a chance.

More and more players get picked for England nowadays, but the flip side is they don't get enough time to establish themselves.

Darren Bent scored 24 Premier League goals last season and what did he get? Just 55 minutes against Brazil and 47 minutes against Japan in friendlies. He didn't score, and that was that.

But once you are part of the England setup, it seems hard to get dropped. Capello said he would pick players on form but he went for a player on the fringes at Aston Villa who scored three goals all season.

You need players with confidence and energy, coming into the tournament on a high - like Toto Schillaci at Italia '90.

Above all, England need movement up front. That is what the likes of David Villa, Gonzalo Higuain and Miroslav Klose give their teams. They are always looking for space, while England are very static.

That goes for all the attacking players, not just the strikers. The Germans were frightening on the counter-attack. They knew exactly what they were going to do before the ball got to them. English players wait for the ball, then think about what they can do with it.

There is talent coming through, but players need first-team football instead of clubs constantly going for foreign stars.

Everybody agrees that Jack Wilshere has the potential to become a special player, but he needs regular football with Arsenal.

It is no good farming him out on loan to Bolton. He will get disillusioned, and learn to play a different, containing style of football instead of his natural, expansive game.

Ryan Giggs improved because he was thrown in with top players from a young age. Such is the grip of foreign imports over our game, I fear the days of a local youngster learning his craft like Giggsy are behind us.

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