Paul Robinson Retires: Who Should Be England Number 1?

No, it’s not the Bolton hard man calling it quits on the England squad that have obviously overlooked him for many years. Instead, Blackburn’s first choice goalkeeper has called it quits on playing for England after a frustrating time since Sven Goran Eriksson departed.

I was surprised he wasn’t even on the plane to South Africa this summer given his performance in the Premier League last season, backed up by having the highest number of clean sheets of any English goalkeeper in the top flight last season.

A regular starter in the Premier League since he broke into the starting 11 at Leeds United before conceding a Premier League record 85 goals the season they were relegated and transferred to Tottenham for a mere £1,500,000 in 2004, having already made his international debut. He picked up 41 international caps, but may be remembered in an England shirt for the ball bouncing over his foot and into the net from a Gary Neville backpass during a 2-0 defeat in Croatia in England’s unsuccessful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Spurs fans may remember his best for his 96 yard goal against Watford; the longest in Premier League history in March 2007. At Tottenham he also picked up his only winners medal to date; the Carling Cup in 2008.

Given that Paul Robinson has handed over his gloves, here is a list of English goalkeepers Fabio Capello can choose from:

Joe Hart (Manchester City)
It will be heartbreaking for England’s best goalkeeping prospect if Joe Hart cannot knock Shay Given off the number 1 spot or get a transfer away from Manchester City this summer. As he showed previously at City, and on loan at Birmingham City last season, Joe Hart is a top goalkeeper in the making. He needs to be playing first team football in the Premier League for Capello to give him a chance. He has great reflexes and is a great shot stopper. There are question marks over his positioning at set pieces, but that’s the same with every English goalkeeper it seems.

David James (Bristol City)
Still a dependable goalkeeper at 40 years of age, David James is unlikely to see much action in an England shirt having dropped down a division. He is however a good character to have around and a good influence on younger goalkeepers and defenders alike. If Capello is to bring in a lot of the under 21 squad it will be worth keeping David James around a little longer to tutor them.

Robert Green (West Ham United)
Not an international class goalkeeper in my opinion. He’s erratic and prone to mistakes. The one against the USA at the World Cup had been on the cards after a poor season with West Ham. Maybe he needs confidence? He’s not going to get it with the Hammers with a weak defence in front of him. He needs to put in a large number of good performances to get back into contention in my opinion.

Ben Foster (Birmingham City)
He had an opportunity at Manchester United, but failed to grab it with two hands. Ben Foster is still rated as a goalkeeper with potential. He’ll have a chance to live up to it this season as he becomes Brimingham City’s first choice following his transfer from United. He needs to eradicate the errors from his game that saw him drop behind Tomasz Kusczack at Manchester United if he is to contender for the number 1 jersey in the England squad. Joe Hart was overlooked after putting in a solid season at the Blues, so what chance does Foster have at Birmingham? He’s already been called up to the squad for a midweek friendly with Hungary!

Chris Kirkland (Wigan Athletic)
A top goalkeeper that has also been overlooked by Fabio Capello. Injuries at crucial times have cost the Wigan Athletic shot stopper from claiming more than 1 international cap. He also goes through spells of bad patches. In those cases, he must not be near the England squad. When he’s at the top of his game though he should certainly be considered, especially given the situation with a lack of top goalkeepers England are currently going through.

Scott Carson (West Bromwich Albion)
Remembered for his blunder in England’s crucial defeat to Croatia in their final qualifying game for Euro 2008. Scott Carson had been playing well for Aston Villa up until that point. Since then it seems to have been depleted of confidence. As West Brom’s first choice keeper during their last unsuccessful Premier League campaign, he was at fault for a few goals then too. With all the action he’s likely to see this season I can see Fabio Capello giving Scott Carson a call up to the England squad. If he ever gets capped by England again I hope it’s after a magical turnaround in performances and not on the basis of not having anyone better. Right now, Scott Carson is anything but international quality.

3 Replies to “Paul Robinson Retires: Who Should Be England Number 1?”

  1. I think Lee Camp of Nottingham Forest should get a look in. He was impressive last season and although he plays in the Championship, I still think he’s one England should be looking out for.

  2. It seems like every England player in their 30’s is turning their back on the national team; Emile Heskey, Wes Brown and now Paul Robinson. Do you think Fabio Capello is having the same effect Sven had on the likes of Paul Scholes?

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