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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

England: The Upward Rise Of Tottenham's Scott Parker

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Summer of 2010 and Fabo Capello trims a 30-man training group to the 23 players heading for the World Cup in South Africa. Among those chopped is West Ham midfielder Scott Parker, who had surprisingly few chances to press his case during Capello's pre World Cup warm-up games.

In June 2010 it appeared that Parker's role in the Italian's plans would be peripheral at best - much the same as under previous England managers since the player's debut way back in 2003.

The past 16 months has brought a considerable change in fortunes. Not being part of England's shambolic World Cup proved to be a positive and Parker returned to West Ham and played well enough to win the Footballer of the Year crown while playing in a relegated side.

His form last year won Parker a move to Spurs where he has the chance of getting back to Champions League football. The midfielder's career is finally threatening to achieve the potential first identified at Charlton and suddenly he's become part of Capello's design for Euro 2012.

It's tempting to wonder what might have happened if Parker hadn't joined the Chelsea revolution and found himself parked on the bench. Spells at Newcastle and West Ham confirmed him to be a solid Premiership performer but not quite an England regular.

Parker's good fortune is that his best form for several years has coincided with Capello's decision to embrace the dominant system in modern international football; 4-2-3-1 offers a mixture of security and adventure with two sitting midfielders behind a trio of talented players allowed licence to experiment.

Capello needs two sitters who can tackle and be disciplined but also look after the ball. Owen Hargreaves would have been a shoo-in but the ex-Man United player has never been available. Frank Lampard doesn't really suit this role and Steven Gerrard is probably marked out for a berth further forward.

Arguably Parker is more of a natural for this role than Gareth Barry - his passing is more secure, if less ambitious and he takes up the right positions more instinctively. If Capello sticks with this system the Spurs man should be a certainty to be in the party for Euro 2012.

From a distance last summer, it seemed that Scott Parker had been harshly treated. He's never been a flashy player but one who embodies many old-fashioned virtues and while he may not be the final answer to England's midfield conundrum he certainly deserves the opportunity to prove it one way or another.

Related Articles:

England: Would you welcome Arsene Wenger as England manager?

England: Does anyone know why England never realise their true potential?

Bale, Giggs, Wilshere or Beckham? Who will represent Team GB at the olympics? Hugh Larkin has his say.

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