Dawson's Shaw to be hurt by England snub

By Ben Pearce FABIO Capello has been a frequent visitor to White Hart Lane this season and, as he prepares to name his World Cup squad, he is sure to be back in N17 in the coming weeks. However, as he has cast his eye over Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Je

By Ben Pearce

FABIO Capello has been a frequent visitor to White Hart Lane this season and, as he prepares to name his World Cup squad, he is sure to be back in N17 in the coming weeks.

However, as he has cast his eye over Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone and - bizzarely - even Ledley King, the Italian has somehow failed to spot arguably the most consistent Englishman at Tottenham - Michael Dawson.

Despite being one of the stars of a successful Spurs season, the centre-back has been steadfastedly overlooked, and the final blow to his slim World Cup hopes appeared to come last week.


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As usual, Capello selected John Terry, Matthew Upson and Joleon Lescott for the friendly against Egypt. But, with Rio Ferdinand out of action, the England boss needed to recruit a new man - and he turned to Ryan Shawcross.

It was the Stoke stopper's first call-up, and if he is above Dawson in Capello's estimation, then the current Spurs skipper has no chance.

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He would never admit it, but Dawson will be exceedingly disappointed with the latest update on his international prospects, and those who watch him on a weekly basis will surely share his frustration.

What, exactly, has convinced Capello that Upson, Lescott and Shawcross should have a higher status in the pecking order?

Spurs have the fourth best defence in the Premier League, having conceded 27 top-flight goals. That is five less than Shawcross's Stoke, eight less than Lescott's Manchester City and 18 less than Upson's West Ham.

Of course, the England team cannot be decided by the Premier League table and defensive records, and the fact that Spurs lie above City, Stoke and West Ham, conceding fewer goals, does not mean that Dawson should automatically be preferred to his rivals.

However, only five teams have a worse top-flight defensive record than the Hammers. So why were Upson and Robert Green both named in England's starting line-up last week? What must Dawson have thought as Upson slipped in the 23rd minute, allowing Egypt to take the lead?

The Tottenham centre-back has every reason to feel aggrieved, and the numbers highlight his importance this season:

Tottenham goals conceded without Dawson: 16 in nine games.

Goals conceded with him: 16 in 29 games while he has been on the field.

Clean sheets without Dawson: None. Clean sheets with him: 14.

It is no coincidence that he was not involved in any of Spurs' heaviest defeats - shipping three goals against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

However, footballers cannot be compared by numbers alone. Instead, let us ask what Capello is looking for in a centre-back.

Form and consistency? Dawson has been virtually flawless for the last two seasons and, in a much-rotated Spurs team, has not missed a game since November 7 - a run of 25 successive matches in all competitions.

Character? He has effectively taken over the captaincy this season, leading the charge towards the top four through example.

An old-fashioned English centre-back, his dedication is never in question, fearlessly throwing himself in front of any efforts on goal. His tackling is ruthless and it is hard to remember the last time he lost an aerial duel.

Experience? Now 26, he has made 137 Premier League appearances and played 20 times in the Uefa Cup. Shawcross is 22, has played 53 top-flight games and never appeared in Europe.

Capello has earned the right to respect but, when he isn't warily watching Ferdinand's persistent back injury and Terry's form, he should maybe pay another visit to the Lane. And this time he should ignore Crouch and Defoe, and focus on the other penalty box.

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