by Tom Exelby

Events this week have blasted perspective onto the race for a seat on THE PLANE and all of a sudden the purpose of this column seems rather pointless. However with best wishes to Fabrice Muamba I will continue with our weekly debate and after five weeks it is time for a review so far. It stinks of optimism but here we go anyway:

It has become almost fashionable in the mainstream media to sniff at England’s chances, to display England fans as deluded bigots who expect to win whenever their brave lions take to the field. The truth is rather different. England fans are a fairly sensible bunch and recognise that we are about 5th or 6th in the world. That is no mean feat and furthermore we have players like Rooney, Hart and Ashley Cole who would stake a claim to any world 11 side. So why can’t we dream? England are a good side and if we can find the right balance we can have a real crack at the Euros where in reality only Spain can call on a squad of significantly better standard.

England’s chances at major tournaments are often tied to the performances of one or two individuals and the current talisman and bearer of the nation’s hopes and dreams is Wayne Rooney. How encouraging then for England fans that Rooney is shouldering so much responsibility for United; he is leading their charge to the title and was imperious against Wolves. An in-form Wayne Rooney in front of a fit and firing midfield of Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker is a genuinely exciting proposition. Out wide Ashley Young and Aaron Lennon would provide pace and trickery in abundance, no full back at the tournament would relish facing Young in his current form and Lennon’s pace makes him a real threat.

In goal England have perhaps the best stopper in world football in Joe Hart who nearly became a poacher at the other end with his last-gasp near-miss this week. To Hart’s left will be Ashley Cole, and to his right probably club-mate Micah Richards. In central defence Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott would provide a new and dynamic pairing. That back five is as solid as any with other top sides relying on some truly dodgy personnel.

The first eleven above might need some spark and the bench could provide that with Adam and Andy Johnson as well as Theo Walcott. Phil Jones could come on to shore up midfield and Kyle Walker could be introduced to provide a new attacking option. Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes should be taken for their experience and ability – the two are still top class. And Paul Robinson should be recalled from retirement to deputise for Joe Hart. This is a squad that is more than capable. Let us dream.

GK- Hart, Robinson, Green

DF-Walker, Richards, Cole, Baines, Ferdinand, Lescott, Cahill, Smalling

MD-Young, Walcott, Lennon, Johnson, Gerrard, Jones, Wilshere, Parker, Scholes

ST-Rooney, Johnson, Wellbeck

Do you agree with Tom’s choices so far? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.