Wigan’s Emile Heskey looked very ordinary at Newcastle last Sunday and it probably shows the lack of choice Steve McClaren has in his England squad that Steve has recalled the former Liverpool striker to partner Michael Owen against Israel tomorrow in their European 2008 qualifier.
McClaren was at the Newcastle-Wigan game on Sunday and saw Heskey in action.
Wigan’s Emile Heskey - recalled to partner Owen tomorrow
The Wigan striker has not won a cap since Euro 2004 in France, but with England’s forward line hit by suspension and injury, Heskey has been selected, probably because of his experience at International level. All the commentary about him resurrecting his England career seems far-fetched. He’s been selected because England are down to the bare bones, but it does nevertheless give him a chance to shine. Reports suggest Heskey has done enough in training to convince Steve McClaren to start him at Wembley.
The two Euro qualification games against Israel and Russia next Wednesday are must-win games for England and anything but decent performances and points picked up will be very disappointing. Poor performances will be met with shouts again for the removal of Steve McClaren as England manager. We have always thought McClaren was a woeful if safe choice by the FA. He seemed to be the manager selected because he upset the least number of people. Steve’s done nothing in the England job to persuade us to think otherwise and certainly his management record has nothing in it to say he was qualified to be England manager in the first place.
But we do hope England can perform well in their next two games and win both of them. If we were to be brutally honest we see no good future for England under the current manager and it seems like at best we can scrape through to the European finals to be held next year in Austria and Switzerland. But given all the excellent players we have it seems we are under-achieving again.
It also doesn’t help Steve that he has so many players not available to him and he is even thinking of playing injured Steven Gerrard tomorrow. However, it didn’t look good yesterday when Gerrard pulled out of TV interviews about the game. The Liverpool skipper was said to be prepared to have a pain-killing injection for his toe injury before the game, but is still in doubt.
While Gerrard is desperate to play for his country his Spanish manager Rafa Benitez is urging the FA not to take any risks with his captain. McClaren also has concerns over Owen Hargreaves though a scan on his thigh injury yesterday revealed only a minor problem.
Michael Owen – key player for England tomorrow
In spite of some of our misgivings we will be cheering England on tomorrow and hope we can win both of our upcoming games. The good news is that Newcastle’s Michael Owen looked very sharp in the game against Wigan, and he is definitively getting back to his old predatory striking form. That has to be good news for England -and Newcastle.