Welbeck or Carroll?
Sky Sports' reporters argue over the main selection issue facing England ahead of meeting France.
Last Updated: 11/06/12 10:11am
Mobility or battering ram? England are expected to decide between Manchester United's Danny Welbeck or Liverpool's Andy Carroll for their opening Euro 2012 fixture against France in Donetsk on Monday. One of those men will replace the suspended Wayne Rooney, and Roy Hodgson is the man who has to make the selection. Here, Sky Sports writers Lewis Rutledge and Chris Burton overview the decision facing England's manager.
Lewis Rutledge: Danny Welbeck should start, because...
The absence of Wayne Rooney for England's opening two games of Euro 2012 undoubtedly leaves a major void but it presents an opportunity for somebody else and Roy Hodgson should be brave enough to throw Danny Welbeck in at the deep end against France.
The Manchester United youngster's rise to prominence has been a rapid one but he has shown over the past couple of years at club level just what an exciting talent he is and he would relish the challenge of leading an attack on the international stage.
Having taken a giant stride forward in his development during a season-long loan spell with Sunderland in 2010/11, he returned to Manchester United last summer a more mature player and it speaks volumes that Sir Alex Ferguson regularly preferred him to Javier Hernandez as Rooney's strike partner.
He also got the chance to play with Ashley Young at Old Trafford and struck up an effective understanding with the winger, which was clear for all to see as England beat Belgium in their final warm-up game before flying out to Poland and Ukraine.
Welbeck's maiden international goal that day at Wembley demonstrated why he is the best option to start in place of Rooney, as he timed his run to perfection to latch onto Young's pass, showed good pace to sprint clear of his defender and then exhibited remarkable composure, as well as splendid technique, to lift his shot delightfully over Simon Mignolet.
It is Welbeck's style of play that will worry opponents more than his goalscoring record, though, and will allow him to fit better into the Hodgson model than a player like Andy Carroll.
While Carroll's old-fashioned battering ram would pose problems of a different kind, Hodgson is trying to build a team from the back that is based on keeping clean sheets and then trying to nick goals on the counter-attack.
Welbeck is suited to that type of strategy and a France team who could be shaky in defence will not feel like creeping too far forward if they have to contend with a speedy centre-forward.
The 21-year-old also offers greater versatility, as he is able to cut in from wide positions and would be the more dynamic choice, possessing the ability to emerge as one of the rising stars of the tournament.
Chris Burton: Andy Carroll should start, because...
Even if Wayne Rooney were available for England's first two games of Euro 2012, there would be a strong argument for Andy Carroll's inclusion in Roy Hodgson's starting XI.
The Liverpool striker ended the 2011/12 campaign in fine form, with the burly Geordie resembling something close to a £35million frontman.
He was throwing his weight around again, scoring important goals and causing opposition defenders no end of problems - just ask Chelsea skipper John Terry, an international centre-half who struggled to contain Carroll during league and cup outings.
Hodgson turned to Carroll in his opening game as England boss, against Norway, and he offered enough during that contest to suggest he is ready to lead the line.
His physical presence makes him the obvious choice to plough a lone furrow, with Ashley Young occupying a deep-lying role, as England need somebody to hold the ball up if they are forced to go from back to front with one swing of a boot.
Carroll has shown at club level that he is capable of operating as a target man and while he may not be in the Peter Crouch 'good touch for a big man' mould, he is capable of taking the ball to feet.
Were England to operate with two widemen against France and Sweden - as is being suggested - Carroll would also provide a sizeable target to aim crosses at.
There is no doubt that he is happiest when attacking high balls and he could cause plenty of problems attacking deliveries from the flanks - particularly against a cultured French defence who would rather see the ball on the deck than in the air.
The Liverpool connection could also work in Carroll's favour. Understandings developed at club level are vital on the international stage, and England have, rather surprisingly, leaned heavily on the Anfield playing ranks this summer.
With Glen Johnson flying down the right, Stewart Downing perhaps operating on the left, and Steven Gerrard dictating things in the middle of the park, who better than Carroll to read their intentions and get himself on the end of a pinpoint cross or a perfectly-weighted through-ball?