It seems I’m the only person in the country, besides England manager Fabio Capello, who believes Kevin Davies should not be in the national squad for Wednesday’s friendly against France. Certainly, the Bolton Wanderers forward is an honest and likeable professional who is unquestionably playing some of the best football of his career, but for me, that’s not enough.
Firstly, the old adage about players being chosen to represent their national side as a reward for good club form should be disregarded once and for all. Naturally international bosses, much like their club equivalents, rate and trust certain players over others. That’s nothing new, and anyway, impressive club performances are rewarded with an accolade; it’s called the Player of the Month award.
Secondly, I don’t believe Davies possesses the nous to ever flourish at international level, and crucially, at 33, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever posses it. In the Premier League, a competition renowned for its leniency, Davies consistently commits more fouls than any other player, and receives more bookings than he does score goals. Quite simply, his tenacious and aggressive style is not suited to the subtleties of international football. Indeed, the robust striker was booked within 15 minutes of making his debut against Montenegro last month, catching an opponent in the face with a flailing arm as he won a header.
Had Wednesday’s fixture been a European Championship qualifier, then Davies would probably be in the squad, with his experience and good form making him a useful stop-gap amid the country’s striker injury crisis. But the match is only a friendly, thus allowing Capello to give the nation's emerging stars a taste of senior international football.
But this is where Capello has got it wrong. Having omitted Davies, he has replaced him with Jay Bothroyd, a 28-year-old journeyman currently plying his trade in the Championship, and Carlton Cole, who's completely devoid of confidence and unable to get a game for the Premier League’s bottom club.
Andy Carroll is an exciting prospect, so his absence is unfortunate, but in reality, and at best, Bothroyd and Cole will only ever be fringe members of the national side. Instead, Capello should have selected Danny Welbeck, a regular for the under 21s who is beginning to realise his potential playing week-in, week-out on-loan at Sunderland. Alternatively, he could have deployed Theo Walcott through the middle, a position Walcott himself and Arsene Wenger believe he will eventually thrive in.
Not for the first time, Capello has taken one step forward, before swiftly taking two back, ultimately leaving fans, pundits, journalists, and a certain Bolton centre-forward, rather befuddled by his selection policy.