Paul Parker

Gerrard should keep armband

Paul Parker

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I think Steven Gerrard
should keep the England
captaincy whether or not Rio Ferdinand plays against Montenegro on Tuesday.

We need some continuity in
the side, and that means not passing the armband around from game to game.

The England
captaincy and it should be held by someone who is assured of his place in the
side, and who is not a permanent injury risk.

I think it was a rash
decision handing the captaincy to Ferdinand in the first place, and England have
played well under Gerrard's leadership - it seems to have brought something
extra from him.

There is talk that Capello
will leave Ferdinand out of the England
side altogether, but I suspect the injury to Phil Jagielka has put paid to that as a serious notion.

I can see the argument for omitting Ferdinand, however. He does not have a
divine right to walk straight back into the team after months and months out,
especially when he has only played a couple of games for Manchester United.

Jagielka played with
distinction against Bulgaria
and Switzerland,
and 99 times out of 100 a manager would go with the man in possession.

There's no doubt Rio is a good defender, but I'm not sure he would have
made a big difference at the World Cup. When fully fit and in form, he
obviously deserves to be in the side, but I don't think he is worth disrupting
the team's stability for.

But with Jagielka out, the alternative to Ferdinand is Joleon Lescott, who is not even playing for his club and has
been found wanting at international level.

It is one thing if you have
the likes of Ledley King or Michael Dawson to bring in, but I think Lescott should
only be used on the left by Capello.

Kevin Davies's call-up at 33
is recognition for a hard-working man who has made the best of himself, and it
shows players that anyone can get into the England squad if they apply
themselves.

However, I really don't
think he is the answer to our problems up front.

International football is a
different proposition to the Premier League, and if Davies plays like he does
for Bolton he'll be giving away free-kicks
every 30 seconds.

Clever defenders know how to
exploit stricter referees and win free-kicks, and the moment Davies goes
shoulder-to-shoulder with them they will fall down.

His physical strength is his
greatest asset, but I think international defenders will use it to their
advantage and he will find he cannot get away with anything.

Andy Carroll is not the
finished article yet, but it would have been a better idea to take him and at
least give him the experience of being around the senior England squad.

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