Paul Parker

Striking limitations highlighted

Paul Parker

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Fabio Capello's injury concerns ahead of the game with Ukraine have only served to highlight how short England are in
the striking department.

With Emile Heskey ruled out through injury, it has become
clear that there are precious few other options for the Group 6 game at
Wembley.

Capello called up Darren Bent to the squad after Heskey and
Carlton Cole's withdrawals, but the Tottenham man has already succumbed to
injury and will play no part.

Even so, the fact that Bent was considered in the first
place speaks volumes about the dearth of striking options England have
available.

Considering Bent has so far failed to convince he is even capable
of doing a job at Premier League level, how can he be expected to lead the line
for his country in a vital World Cup qualifier?

Gabriel Agbonlahor has been called up as Bent's replacement,
but the Aston Villa man is lacking in confidence at the moment and suffering
from a terrible run of form. One goal in 17 games is hardly the kind of record you'd
want to from a player about to spearhead England's attack in such a crucial
fixture.

But what were the other options? James Beattie has done well
enough since moving to Stoke City and Kevin Davies regularly does a decent job
for Bolton, but neither are good enough to hold their own at international
level.

Michael Owen may once have been world class, or at least close
to that, but he is miles away at the moment and has deservedly been overlooked.

Increasingly, it appears that Rooney apart - some of the
time - England simply do not
boast anyone in the same class as the likes of Spain's Fernando Torres.

That said, the more I see of Peter Crouch, the more I like what
he offers as a back up. He may not be the most mobile player ever seen, but he
has a style that opposition defences find difficult to cope with.

And if he can act as an effective partner for Rooney, who is
arguably England's most important player, then he should be able to make his
mark on the national side, especially now since Capello has decided to give him
his chance from the start against Ukraine.

Let's just hope Capello has no more injuries to contend with before
kick-off.

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