Striker omission a Capello tradition

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Whether it's a competitive fixture with the nation's hopes hanging by a thread, or a meaningless friendly, the one constant that surrounds the furore of the England team, is that Fabio Capello's selection process is anything but predictable.

The latest omission from the Three Lions' squad tasked with earning at least a point in Montenegro on Friday to confirm their place in Euro 2012, is the decision to overlook the experience of former captain Rio Ferdinand, in favour of Manchester United teammate Phil Jones.

The 19-year-old defender, with just a handful of Old Trafford appearances under his belt, is still relatively 'wet behind the ears', despite impressing for Stuart Pearce's U21s in the European Championships in Denmark this summer.

Perhaps the move is a sign of things to come, as Ferdinand enters the twilight of his career, a statement of intent that it is time for Jones and the wave of new young English players to step up to the plate.

But, in fact, it's a blend of youth and experience that is widely regarded as the greatest formula for success, as Capello lays down the marker for his current crop of England players, to go all out for the win, and ensure automatic qualification for the competition in Poland and Ukraine in June.

Eyebrows have also been raised over the Italian coach's choice of strikers chosen to fire England to glory. Andy Carroll's inclusion, despite an indifferent start to the campaign is questionable, and the same could be said for both Darren Bent and Bobby Zamora who have hardly set the world alight.

Wayne Rooney's early-season form speaks for itself, and Danny Welbeck is another player brimming with confidence, who falls into the 'new wave' category. But other than that, the best available options are open to debate, as GMF considers three strikers with a right to feel aggrieved having been overlooked.

Peter Crouch

With two goals inside a week for the Potters, including a goal against Manchester United, the 6ft 7in striker has hit the ground running since his deadline day move to the Britannia Stadium.

Crouch followed his United equaliser last weekend up with a goal against Besiktas in midweek, to maintain his impressive European goalscoring record of 27 goals in 51 matches.

And despite firing a blank in Sunday's defeat at Swansea, with 22 international goals in 42 England appearances, the £10million man has a strong case to be pushing for inclusion.

"I am still thinking about England, without a doubt," he admitted in a recent interview. "I've never wanted to retire from England or anything like that, I want to play for as long as I can.

"I still believe I've got goals and a contribution to make for my country and, if selected, I'm sure I'll do well. My record stands up against anyone's and if given the opportunities I believe I'll take them."

Gabby Agbonlahor

Last season was one of discontent for Gabriel Agbonlahor - he made 35 league appearances under Gérard Houllier's short-lived regime, scoring only three goals, the first of which did not come until January.

But with a new manager, Alex McLeish, the striker has a new lease of life. His well‑executed goal on Saturday takes him past last season's total and means that, other than Wayne Rooney, he is the leading English goalscorer in the Barclays Premier League.

Something more impressive than his hot streak, though, is that Agbonlahor has assisted more goals than the rest of his team-mates.

It is just under two years since the Villa striker reported for England duty – a 3-0 win over Belarus in October 2009. His form last season did not merit a call-up but his form this season does.

Another potential advantage for Agbonlahor is the fact that he already plays with fellow England international Darren Bent, which could help ease the transition into the international fold.

"There were people who said me and Gabby couldn't play together because we are too similar," revealed Bent. "But we complement each other well and give each other chances.

"I don't think there are too many strikers playing better than Gabby. He looks strong and fast and dangerous. The goals he has been scoring this season have been fantastic."

Daniel Sturridge

Since returning from suspension on the opening day of the season, the England U21 international has hit the ground running after being given an opportunity to stake his claim for a regular place in the Chelsea side by new Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas.

His impressive form was capped with a brace in Sunday's 5-1 demolition of Bolton - a sensational return to his old stomping ground after Sturridge notched eight goals in 12 appearances for the Trotters while on loan there last season.

"Could he play for England? I think so," Villas-Boas said in a recent interview. "I've not been hiding the fact that I like his potential.

"I spoke to Franco Baldini [Capello's assistant] once a long time ago about him, but it's not up to me. If he gets there, it's because he deserves it because of the work he has been doing. It's not me that he has to please."

After impressing in the U21 Championships in Denmark, Sturridge has now set his sights on emulating the likes of Welbeck in making the step up to the senior side.

"I am no different from any other England player, I want to be involved at Euro 2012," he revealed. "I haven't been picked for the squad yet so I need to keep working hard. I need to get myself in Chelsea's starting XI regularly first and, hopefully, the manager will choose me.

"I have had a taste of tournament football by playing in the European Under-21s Championships in the summer and it was great for me. The coach Stuart Pearce helped me out a lot there and played me in every game, which gave me an opportunity to showcase my talents around Europe.

"It was good for me to face the challenge of trying to get through the group stages like the first team will face next year."

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