could this man really help england lift the world cup?

England have lots of big names – Gerrard, Ferdinand, Lampard etc. However, I can’t help feeling that after Rooney, Ashley Cole is going to be their most crucial player.

With defenses as organised as ever, its hard to attack through the middle of the pitch. Therefore good full back play is crucial in the modern game.

In 2006, Italy had Zambrotta and Grosso, before that Brazil had the legendary combination of Roberto Carlos and Cafu and in 1998, France got key contributions from Lizarazu and Thuram.

In this World Cup, England have arguably the best left back in the world in Ashley Cole and an attacking threat on the right in Glen Johnson. A lot of people don’t like Ashley Cole the person – which is understandable – but he is a terrific footballer.

He defends brilliantly and going forward seems to know the right moment to make the attacking run, which he can then continue with a well directed cross – oh and he’s started to score as well.

England’s projected starting lineup is a 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard in a wide left position. This should suit Cole perfectly as Gerrard is likely to come in on his deadly right foot, opening up space for Cole to overlap on the left. If defences overcommit to the left, then England have the pace of Lennon/Walcott(Wright-Phillips?) on the right.

England still have holes – Gareth Barry and Rio Ferdinand’s fitness are big concerns, but their first choice team looks very promising. Of course, unless Capello decides to go back to playing Lampard and Gerrard together in central midfield. (don’t do it Fabio!)

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