England manager Roy Hodgson insists he has no concerns about the commitment and ability of Andy Carroll after naming the controversial Liverpool striker in his Euro 2012 squad.
Carroll has largely been seen as a flop since his £35million transfer from Newcastle to Liverpool, but he squeezed into Hodgson’s 23-man squad ahead of Peter Crouch — a man who has scored 22 goals in 42 international appearances — after a series of good performances towards the end of the season.
Carroll’s pedigree has never been in doubt. The 6ft 4in striker’s hulking frame allows him to shrug off challenges from the strongest defenders in the world and he was prolific during his time at Newcastle.
It is off the pitch where question marks lie about the his ability to cut it at the top level.
Last September, Hodgson’s predecessor Fabio Capello advised Carroll he needed to focus more and “drink less” after becoming concerned with the his lifestyle while in the north-east.
With Wayne Rooney suspended for England’s first two matches of Euro 2012, Hodgson may choose Carroll to lead the line for the Three Lions at the tournament and the England boss had no qualms about including the player after a chat with former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.
“I spoke to Kenny about him as I don’t know [Carroll] well and it’s easy to be tricked by perceptions of players but Kenny was convinced about his seriousness as a professional. When I heard that it meant I had no further reservations.”
Hodgson chose Carroll, Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck as his strikers for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and Arsenal’s teenage starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were surprising inclusions while there was no place for Michael Carrick, Micah Richards and Rio Ferdinand, who was left out instead of John Terry.
Hodgson did not include Paul Scholes despite a clamour for the 38-year-old Manchester United veteran to be included.
The naming of Steven Gerrard as England skipper was expected, with Hodgson having seen the midfielder’s leadership at close quarters during his time in charge at Liverpool.
The 64-year-old hopes Gerrard can instil a sense of unity that has been put in doubt by Terry’s alleged racial abuse of Rio’s brother Anton Ferdinand — a charge the Chelsea captain denies.
“I will be counting on him to help me as much as he can, to build the team unity, and build the type of environment to give us a chance to thrive at this tournament,” Hodgson said.
England squad for Euro 2012:
Goalkeepers: Green (West Ham), Hart (Man City) Ruddy (Norwich).
Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Johnson (Liverpool), Jones (Man Utd), Lescott (Man City), Terry (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Barry (Man City), Downing (Liverpool), Gerrard (Liverpool), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Man City), Parker (Tottenham), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Walcott (Arsenal), Young (Man Utd).
Forwards: Carroll (Liverpool), Rooney (Man Utd), Welbeck (Man Utd), Defoe (Tottenham).
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