Paul Parker

King will make sure Rio isn’t missed

Paul Parker

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Rio
Ferdinand's injury was hugely unfortunate but it did not come as a surprise,
given his fitness problems over the course of the past season.

Nor is it
such bad news for England, given how those injury issues have affected his form
this season. He simply has not been right and on current form he is probably
not one of the two best central defenders in England.

So, focus
turns to the man to replace him in the England line-up.  And for me that
man has to be Ledley King.

King has
been brilliant for Tottenham this season and instrumental in the break-up of
the 'Big Four'
and Spurs claiming a Champions League place.

Not only is he is a
commanding centre-half but he is equally effective in the other box and poses a
real goal threat from set pieces.

And he's
played enough games at international level to be able to handle the pressure of
appearing at a World Cup.

There is,
of course, an overriding doubt over his physical condition, but Fabio Capello
has to go with his best players in each position from the start, and at the
moment King is one of, if not the best,
centre-halves in the England squad.

But if
King's problems don't allow him to continue, Capello can then turn to others -
England are well-enough stocked in that
position to offer a number of alternatives. And I would suggest that Rio's
replacement in the squad Michael Dawson currently heads the list of contenders
for that third central defensive slot.

Dawson,
like King, has enjoyed a fantastic season at club level and I firmly believe he
should have made the original cut ahead of Matthew Upson, who has been poor
both for West Ham and England this year.

Dawson is a
player who has made tremendous steps this season and one who fully deserves to
be going to South Africa. He's enjoyed the best year of his career, he's still
young and heading into the tournament he's in better shape than Upson - and,
indeed, Rio.

Capello may
even accept he made a mistake in overlooking Dawson in favour of Upson for his
final 23, but he now has the chance to rectify that
thanks to Rio's injury.

My only
concern is that the Italian missed a trick by not giving him some playing time
in the pre-tournament friendlies and if he does get the nod at some stage in
South Africa, he will have to make his debut.

But Capello
must know that if we're talking about picking form players - as Capello has
done in the past - he should be going for Dawson and King together. They know
each other well from Spurs, have proven they
can play alongside each other and are bang in form.

Terry, like
Rio, has suffered from shaky form this season. At times when faced with the
best strikers in the world, he has looked leaden-footed and has been found
lunging on more than one occasion.

Of course,
there's no way John Terry will be dropped for Saturday's opener against the
USA, given that not too long ago he was captain and is still respected within
the dressing room, but the Chelsea skipper must know he has to perform if he is
not to fall victim to Capello's famed ruthlessness at some stage during the
tournament.

The same
applies to King, but at the moment I have no doubts he is capable of stepping
up to the plate and taking his chance on the biggest stage.

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