Tottenham stars sweat on England squad decision: Part 1/2

TOTTENHAM took on Mexico at Wembley on Monday evening as Fabio Capello prepares to name the Spurs stars who will represent England at this summer s World Cup. Ledley King, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon...

By Ben Pearce

TOTTENHAM took on Mexico at Wembley on Monday evening as Fabio Capello prepares to name the Spurs stars who will represent England at this summer's World Cup.

Ledley King, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone and Aaron Lennon were all in action for the Three Lions, helped by a supporting cast of ringers from other Premier League clubs.

And, as the dust settled on their 3-1 win - due in no small part to goals from King and Crouch - Capello was left to ponder how he would cut his 30-man provisional party down to the final squad of 23 before next Tuesday.

The Italian will see one more audition before his announcement, as England take on Japan in Graz, Austria this Sunday lunchtime.

And, having been an unused substitute at Wembley, Spurs' Michael Dawson won't be the only one hoping for one last chance to impress.

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Here, Ham&High Sport looks at Tottenham's six representatives in England's provisional 30-man squad, and weights up their chances of making the final cut.

PART ONE

JERMAIN DEFOE

A HALF-TIME substitute on Monday night, he had a fairly quiet game - as he has done in most of his recent outings.

Over the season as a whole, Defoe had his best ever campaign, scoring 24 goals, more than ever before, and 11 more than Crouch.

However, the 27-year-old has gone off the boil at the worst possible time from an England point of view, and his only goal in his last nine appearances came from the penalty spot against Chelsea.

The last time Defoe hit the net from open play was the 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers on March 13, and the Tottenham striker never looked likely to score against Mexico.

Defoe narrowly failed to reach a Ledley King through-ball as Mexico keeper Oscar Perez scurried off his line to clear, but that was his only sniff of goal. Otherwise the bulk of his work was done in deeper areas.

In fairness he did well, proving that he can link up with England's star players and play his part in quick, flowing moves. But that is not really his job, for England or Spurs, and his goalless spell is doing him no favours.

Capello may have preferred Defoe to Darren Bent all through the season, but form and confidence are particularly important for strikers, and Defoe has failed to kill the contest off.

Capello will keep four of his provisional five strikers for the World Cup, and is sure to keep Rooney, Crouch and probably Heskey - leaving Defoe and Bent.

The Tottenham man should get the nod once again, but Capello may give Bent one more chance against Japan. Whatever happens, the manager's decision is harder than it needed to be and Defoe is sweating on his place.

PETER CROUCH

ANOTHER goal, an assist for Ledley King and, after dominating the skies once again, further evidence that England's opponents haven't got a clue how to handle the 6ft 7ins striker.

The 29-year-old has now struck 21 times in 38 appearances for the Three Lions, and is a certainty to be on the plane for South Africa. The only question is whether he will start against the US on Saturday June 12.

Capello believes that Emile Heskey is a better partner for Wayne Rooney, but there is little doubt that Crouch is the better forward, and will be more likely to hit the net if a chance falls to him in South Africa.

LEDLEY KING

BY HIS own admission, his performance at Wembley was far from his best. The Spurs captain may have scored, but Capello will not be blinded by one unmarked header from six yards.

The 29-year-old was turned a couple of times and was undone by a simple through ball, needing Robert Green to bail him out on more than one occasion.

The worry is that Mexico striker Guillermo Franco is far from the most challenging international striker - that's why he plays for West Ham.

This shaky display is understandable from a player who had not made an international appearance for three years, but this is not the time for those kind of excuses.

Capello probably picked King in part to test his knee, but the Italian may have ended up with concerns over the Spurs man's defending at the top level.

King's stock has risen immeasurably in recent weeks, and deservedly so, but he probably took a small step backwards on Monday night.

Tottenham's captain should still go to South Africa - he is certainly ahead of Dawson in the pecking order, and possibly Upson too.

However, he is unlikely to start unless Terry or Ferdinand are injured, and even then he will face stern competition.

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