Date:Thursday September 7 2006
The debate about England's midfield has been raging for some while now and after this week's two European qualifiers, it's still clear to all that we just don't have the right mix in the centre of the park.
Thankfully, McClaren has realised Beckham's days are now gone, but he really needs to bite the bullet quickly and accept that accommodating players in the side because of their reputation is not likely to produce results at the highest level; the World Cup provided ample evidence of that.
Similarly playing people out of position is not the way forward. Gerrard, who for me disappoints at International level is not a left winger. Lampard also, is rapidly developing into this generation's John Barnes; a phenomenal club player that cannot produce the same form for England.
It's now the right time for McClaren to assess his other options. This gives our Joey Barton a great opportunity to see if he can step up to the international stage. With a series of personal and contractual problems now thankfully behind him, Joey is at last knuckling down and has been City's 'Mr Consistency' for a while now.
Whether Barton can do it for England, depends on whether McClaren is (a) brave enough to rest the failing Gerrard / Lampard partnership and (b) Joey himself putting in performances that demand his inclusion.
Just to prove, I'm not writing this with my blue blinkers on, I think that Villa's Gareth Barry, West Ham's Reo-Coker and Bolton's Kevin Nolan are equally deserving of a chance...... but hopefully behind Joey !
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