Writer: Danny Cosker
Date:Monday February 13 2012
As I`m writing this, the England national team neither has a manager nor a captain. Many of the established squad members are morally split on recent high profile incidents that have plagued this season`s Premier League campaign and it`s not looking at all good.
There are those looking in from the outside that would say the English national team is in disarray - which on the face of it is a very fair observation.
The FA need to appoint a manager as soon as possible in preparation for the up-coming European Championships and get their ship in order.
There is a vast pool of experience and young talent available for the next England manager, but the area he will be spoilt for choice in, is in an area that the England team have always managed to consistently produce is quality central defenders.
As I was growing up in the early 1980`s, Arsenal legend, Tony Adams MBE, was taking the art of defending to a whole new level using a mixture of pace, strength and a leadership quality that was virtually unheard of at such a tender age.
Adams made his debut at Highbury four-weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular at just 19-years-old - surely too young to be a regular-starting top-tier division centre-half, right? Tony Adams went on to 504 Arsenal appearances and captained his club for 14-years after he was given the armband at just 21.
Currently, England has: Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Phil Jagielka, Jolean Lescott and Wes Brown from a current pool of experienced international central defenders. The younger crop of talent is obviously where the future lies with the likes of the raw and impressive Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The one name that hasn`t been mentioned in the written press and amongst fans is who I feel could well be the next Tony Adams - Steven Caulker. The 20-year-old Swansea City defender (on loan from Tottenham Hotspur) has shown many similarities to the last genuine CB to captain England.
Standing at 6`3" tall, is extremely strong and quick with aerial prowess that`s comparable to the best in the league - Steven Caulker has all the hallmarks to make it to the very top of the game.
Starring in Swansea`s dominant defensive pairing with Ashley Williams, the Swans are solid as a defensive unit and are extremely comfortable on the ball. This ability to retain possession amongst the back four has rarely been utilised at England`s national team. This has mainly been the case because the experts say "English players don`t possess the technical ability." There are plenty of English players at every level of football that possess the capability to get the ball down and play it and Caulker is at the heart of it at Swansea.
Since Caulker was 16 he`s been punching far above his weight making 31 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur`s under-18 outfit and scoring 1 goal in the process. The following year, he was made captain of the under-18 team and made 5 appearances for Spurs` reserve team.
Since then, Caulker has applied his trade out on loan to Yeovil and Bristol City. He was subsequently voted Bristol City`s young player of the year at the end of the 2010-2011 season and earned international recognition winning England under-19 and under-21 caps.
Swansea City won the race for his signature on a season-long loan deal from Tottenham Hotspur for the start of the 2011-2012 Premier League campaign.
In pre-season training with the Swans he looked every bit the quality of a Premier League player, his physical attributes at just 19-years old in addition to his composure on the ball and abundance of pace shone through the early sessions - he is the real deal.
Caulker has made 13 appearances so far this season for the high flying Jacks, and would of made more if it wasn`t for his unfortunate injury against Arsenal at the Emirates.
Swansea City missed out on the signing of Ryan Bennett in the January transfer window, who was the player that the Swans manager Brendan Rodgers had highlighted as Caulkers replacement when his loan deal ends and returns to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the season.
Steven Caulker is valued at around £7 million, and whilst Norwich City captured the signature of Ryan Bennett for £5.5 million, I would suggest the number one summer transfer target for Swansea City is Steven Caulker and with it, smashing their transfer record on a player that has experience in the philosophy of the football club and the Premier League.
Caulker is the best of an exceptional group of young English players and through the guidance and coaching of Brendan Rodgers, he will only get better.
Just as Tony Adams was in 1987, "If you`re good enough, you`re old enough."
Date:Monday February 13 2012
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