New Carroll injury leaves England with ‘big man’ shortage
News that West Ham and England forward Andy Carroll has suffered another fitness setback will have given Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson a headache ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
The 24-year-old Geordie is currently 2/1 with Coral to travel to Brazil next summer, which is the shortest price about any of England’s ‘big man’ options in attack.
Southampton’s Rickie Lambert is 9/4 to make the squad after covering manfully during his country’s recent striker shortage against Moldova and Ukraine.
Beyond those two, England’s stock of 6ft-plus hitmen is pretty low, with Darren Bent and Peter Crouch the only other beanpole forwards priced-up by Coral at 25/1 each.
Neither of that pair will travel to South America and the prospect of taking Lambert – who will be 32-years-old by next summer and has scored just three goals in nine games for his club this term – is not likely to whip the Three Lions faithful into a frenzy.
Although Carroll’s return has now been put back until after the new year, the 6ft 3in Hammer could still score enough goals in the second half of the campaign to force his way onto the plane.
However, if the former Liverpool man does not prove his worth to the national setup in time, Hodgson could do worse than follow the example of Carroll’s club manager Sam Allardyce and unleash Ravel Morrison as England’s alternative Plan B.
Morrison is an outsider at 5/1 to make it to the 2014 World Cup, but England’s first-choice centre-forward Daniel Sturridge is already a long-ball option at 6ft tall and Hodgson could decide to dispense with this tired tactic to free-up a place for the up-and-coming dribbler.
The 20-year-old former Manchester Utd youth skipped past Spurs’ defence to score the Irons’ last goal in their 3-0 win at White Hart Lane recently.
If England find themselves struggling to break down opponents in their World Cup quest next June they may be better off having a player in reserve who can maraud through tired defenders, rather than lumping the ball up to a big man and hoping it bounces into Wayne Rooney’s path.