Early Doors

Is this the end for John Terry?

Early Doors

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John Terry had himself quite an evening at Anfield, didn't he?

Three times in the first half the erstwhile England skipper and reigning World's Bravest Man was nutmegged - twice by Luis Suarez and once by Andy Carroll.

The last time ED spent 90 minutes watching somebody opening their legs that frequently, it had the lights off and the door securely locked.

Equally embarrassing, Terry slipped while turning to allow Jordan Henderson (Jordan Henderson!) to score Liverpool's second.

Ray Wilkins assured us Terry wears the longest studs available, but ED is almost certain it has seen him slip over at a crucial moment before. It just can't place it.

And to cap off a dismal half, Terry failed to pick up Carroll at a corner as the big man set up Daniel Agger for Liverpool's third.

Now, everyone can have the occasional nightmare - think Nemanja Vidic resorting to rugby tackles against Fernando Torres (then of Liverpool, hence good).

But Terry's performances have been sub-par for a while. ED laughed out loud when Carroll attempted a lumbering stepover against Terry in the Cup final - yet the Chelsea man bought it, and Carroll smashed the ball home.

And the red card against Barcelona? Further evidence that Terry's old-school let-'em-have-it approach to roughing forwards up is an anachronism in a game increasingly intolerant of 'letting your opponent know you are there'.

Normally, an England manager would shudder to see a senior player so horribly exposed, but Terry's dip in form looks like a gift for Roy Hodgson.

Today's Daily Mail reports that Hodgson will omit Terry from Euro 2012 in an attempt to head off dressing-room unrest. But that does not have to be the reason any more.

No longer must he pick his team based on politics, factions and Terry's upcoming trial on a charge of racially abusing an England team-mate's brother (a charge he denies).

Instead, Hodgson can select a squad based on form, and still get around the thorny 'Rio or Terry' issue.

On current performances, ED would rank Terry behind Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and, yes, Rio Ferdinand.

Four central defenders is all you need for a major tournament - job done. You don't even need to consider the rumbling controversy and risk of player discontent Terry's selection would cause.

So is this the end for Terry?

By his own admission, he has spent most of his career playing through injury, most notably a bad back.

Eventually that physical strain starts to tell, restricting mobility and reducing players to a shadow of their former selves.

Just look at Jamie Carragher, Liverpool's defensive colossus for over a decade, now a bit-part player.

Terry is younger than Carragher to the tune of three years, but he has a lot of miles on the clock - over 550 club games, plus 81 England caps at U21 and senior levels.

Never the most nimble, Terry now has the turning circle of an Unterseeboot and the pace of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now, of course, he is JT, lionheart, Mr Chelsea, a man who makes assiduously sure on removing his shirt that his captain's armband stays in place.

He will not simply fade into the night. He is not 'finished' as a professional footballer. However, his days as a top-level defender (and for all his flaws he was quite some player) are over.

And that decline, perversely, is great news for Roy Hodgson.

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On the flip side, Andy Carroll's timely return to form has put him squarely in the frame for Euro 2012.

In the space of a superb Cup final cameo and a powerhouse display last night, Carroll has made a compelling case for Hodgson to select him.

Finally, people have stopped expecting him to play like a £35 million forward and are just appreciating him for what he is.

The polar nature of football opinion means Carroll is either a world-beater or a donkey - the truth, of course, is that he is somewhere in between.

Liverpool might have paid about £28m too much for him, but that does not mean he is without his uses. Sometimes you need a big bloke to run around the box scaring people.

Should he go to Poland and Ukraine, though? If Hodgson insists on a 4-4-2, then the case for Carroll is compelling.

But seriously, will we never learn? Even though ED think he should be in the squad, it also confidently predicts that Carroll will go to the Euros, fail to perform and return to England as a national laughing stock.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Publicly I have been asked to support the manager and I always have as I personally like Steve (Kean). I have supported him from the start and have been desperate for him to do well. However, I am now of the opinion that it isn't working and he is ready to go. He has lost the crowd and as a result of this game (at home to Bolton) has lost the dressing room as well - the players no longer want to play for him. It is a shame and disappointing but we must act now to save the club. The board should be asked their opinion in who should be the new manager."

Blackburn's deputy CEO Paul Hunt in a letter to the club's owners sent in December, and leaked yesterday.

FOREIGN VIEW: Spain defender Carles Puyol will probably miss Euro 2012 after he sustained an injury to his right knee that his club Barcelona said requires arthroscopic surgery and will sideline him for around six weeks.

The shaggy-haired centre back damaged the knee in Saturday's La Liga match at home to Espanyol and will have the operation on May 12, Barca said in a statement on their website.

"The estimated time he will be out of action is around six weeks," the statement said, adding that he would be unavailable for the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.

COMING UP: All eyes on Bucharest for what should be an absolute belter of a Europa League final tonight - Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao LIVE at 19:45 UK time.

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