WATCHING the anguish on the faces of those players unsure of their place in the World Cup squad, brings back daunting memories.
It wasn’t quite so bad for me in 1986 as I had played a lot of the build-up and was pretty sure I would be included, but 1990 was quite different.
Basically, it was between myself and David Rocastle. He had played in a few games, as had I, it was very close between us.
We were all in a hotel in Berkshire and I remember those extremely tense hours leading up to the point where Sir Bobby Robson called us into his office one by one to deliver us our fate. Our boyhood dreams hung on that very moment.
Being told I was included in the squad for Italy was just an incredible feeling. I felt for David, but, at the same time, was so excited to get to play on the greatest show on earth.
Of Fabio Capello’s 30-man squad in Austria, I reckon as many as half are going through that same feeling as I right now as he prepares to inform them of his final 23 today. There are a number of extremely close calls and some very tough decisions for Capello to make, but this is just the start for him, there are many more to come.
Picking a No1 between the three goalkeepers is his first dilemma, but, for me, I like the look of Joe Hart. I think he is an extra special keeper and showed against Japan on Sunday that he is in confident mood and unfazed by international football.
In defence is where I believe we’ll see the biggest casualty list. The re-emergence of Jamie Carragher and Ledley King has given Capello a nice headache and the fact we’ve seen nothing at all of Michael Dawson, Matthew Upson and Stephen Warnock in the two warm-up games doesn’t bode well for them.
The same can also be said for Scott Parker, who looks to be behind Tom Huddlestone in the pecking order while Huddlestone himself will probably lose out to the more experienced Michael Carrick – this dependent, of course, on the fitness of Gareth Barry.
The right-sided berth also gives the manager plenty food for thought and dispute struggling for form, Theo Walcott just gets the nod, for me, over Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Aaron Lennon and Adam Johnson, who also covers the left side, would be the first two names on my list while the versatility of Joe Cole, in playing anywhere across the midfield or as a supporting striker, may not only account for one of the wide men, but also for the fifth striker, Darren Bent.
Either way, it’s a tough call to make.