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Saints legend: Injuries and Ferdinand controversy have helped England
10:10am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in Sport
LAWRIE McMenemy believes the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard from the England squad may have HELPED the country’s Euro 2012 hopes.
There was great debate before the tournament about the surprise exclusion of Manchester United centre half Ferdinand, while Chelsea midfielder Lampard missed out through injury.
But McMenemy, who was England assistant manager under Graham Taylor’s reign, reckons Roy Hodgson’s team have, if anything, benefitted from their unavailability.
Writing in his exclusive Daily Echo column, the legendary ex-Saints boss said: “Looking back, we all felt England would suffer because of late injuries to players like Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard.
“Then, of course, there was also the question over whether Rio Ferdinand should have been brought in or not.
“In a strange way, though, it has actually worked out.
“Joleon Lescott has proved to be a steady partner to John Terry, and Scott Parker equally so alongside Steven Gerrard.
“If, for instance, Ferdinand and Lampard had been in the squad, everyone would have expected them to start.
“To be cruel, it then would have meant two sets of old legs together at the back, and similarly in midfield with Gerrard and Lampard, who in the past have never really hit it off as a pairing.”
McMenemy also believes Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli could prove the biggest threat to the hopes of Hodgson’s England team when they face Italy in tomorrow night’s quarter-final.
“He has been good enough to have played in all three games so far,” said McMenemy.
“Without a doubt, he has got ability, otherwise his club and country wouldn’t give him the time of day.
“He is probably in a better state of mind when surrounded by so many of his other Italian counterparts.”
See today's Echo for Lawrie Mac's column in full.