Is Capello’s call correct?
England manager Fabio Capello has inadvertently raised a few curious eyebrows in East Anglia as he continues his preparations for next summer’s European Championships.
With Wembley friendlies coming up against world champions Spain on Saturday and then Sweden a week today, Norwich City number one John Ruddy was believed to be in with a shout of being one of three goalkeepers in Capello’s squad. Indeed, Ray Clemence was at Villa Park to take in the Canaries’ 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday – the former international glovesman remains a part of the England staff.
However, Sunday’s squad announcement confirmed Capello has kept faith with the trio of first choice Joe Hart with back-up Scott Carson and third-choice stopper David Stockdale.
And it is Stockdale’s continued selection that has raised surprised looks north of the Waveney.
The Fulham 26-year-old is spending the season on loan at Norwich’s Championship rivals Ipswich Town, having signed a new four-year deal with the Cottagers in the summer.
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While Stockdale’s top-flight record of three clean sheets in his eight appearances is not to be sniffed at, Town’s record in the second tier this season leaves a little more to be desired.
Only newly promoted Peterborough United and bottom side Doncaster Rovers – who won at Portman Road on Saturday – have conceded more goals this season, a tally of 27 goals in Town’s 15 Championship matches.
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As for Ruddy, the 25-year-old is yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League and over half the top flight can claim a better defensive record than City’s 18 goals conceded in 11 games – six of them coming in the last two games; the 3-3 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Carrow Road and then Saturday’s defeat in the midlands.
Given form and taking opposition into account, talk of Ruddy receiving an England call-up had been brewing in recent weeks with City boss Paul Lambert and the likes of ex-Scotland manager Craig Brown backing the Canaries stopper for selection by Capello.
“I hear all the rumours that England might be looking at him – listen, England could do a lot worse than look at him,” said Lambert of his goalkeeper following his point-winning performance against Liverpool at Anfield last month.
Brown added: “I would fully endorse it if England thought of John Ruddy; you know you are getting a top class goalkeeper and from what I’ve seen, he is as good as any of the others.”
Pundit and former Villa striker Stan Collymore also joined the Ruddy calls at the weekend: “John Ruddy should be in instead of David Stockdale…disappointing that Capello isn’t rewarding form and young talent (Jack Rodwell apart),” he tweeted on Sunday.
All of which has left fans of East Anglia’s two arch rivals wondering who – if either – merit a place in Capello’s plans with next summer’s European Championships in Ukraine and Poland coming ever more into view.