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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 08:51 GMT
World Cup scouting - Scott Parker
Sven-Goran ErikssonScott ParkerSupportersNewcastle manager Glenn RoederWill Scott Parker be going to Germany?

By Saj Chowdhury
BBC Sport at St James' Park

On 8 May, head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will announce the group of 23 players that he believes can win the World Cup for England.

Until that time, speculation is sure to continue over the exact composition of the squad as the build-up to the finals in Germany intensifies.

BBC Sport runs the rule over Newcastle United midfielder Scott Parker as he looks to force his way back into Eriksson's plans.

ENGLAND HISTORY

From ball juggler in an advert to respected midfielder in the Premiership, Parker's rise up the football ladder has been something of a Roy of the Rovers tale.

And like Roy Race's career, Parker has also suffered his ups and downs. A major down being his apparent inability to force his way into Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad for the forthcoming World Cup.

The 25-year-old, who has played for England at every level from Under-15 onwards, has made only two appearances, both as a substitute, for the senior team.

His debut came against Denmark in 2003 and he appeared against Sweden the following year.

In between his international appearances, Parker moved from Charlton to Chelsea for 10m.

At Charlton he was one of Alan Curbishley's leading lights, at Chelsea he became part of a rotation system, where his chances of first-team football were few and far between.

The diminutive player found himself up against Claude Makelele, Geremi and Emmanuel Petit for the holding midfielder role.

After his late substitute appearance against the Swedes, Parker admitted that it would be, "tough to get into the England squad" for Euro 2004. He was right.

A foot injury kept him out of much of the 2004/2005 Premiership season, missing Chelsea's title-winning campaign and the chance to appear for England during the World Cup qualification campaign.

His 6.5m move to Newcastle at the start of the current season provided Parker with a platform to boost his chances of making it into Eriksson's World Cup plans - but despite good performances, has he done enough to convince the England coach?

SCOTT PARKER - THE FORM GUIDE

Dependable, solid, steady. Words to describe Parker's performances for Newcastle this season.

Despite missing part of the campaign after undergoing knee surgery, many believe the 25-year-old has been the Magpies' best player this campaign.

Writers and pundits have praised his discipline as Newcastle's 'reducer' in midfield, while home fans are just thankful they have had someone to save the notoriously leaky defence from repeated embarrassment.

Unfortunately for Parker, Newcastle's last two games, against Manchester United and Liverpool, have seen the former Chelsea star overshadowed by his midfield counterparts.

On Sunday the movement of Liverpool's midfield of Steven Gerrard, Harry Kewell and Dietmar Hamann was too much for Parker and his team-mates to handle.

Newcastle's fragility at the back meant Parker largely remained deep, although he did venture forward on a few occasions, most notably to provide a floated cross that Shola Ameobi converted to give Newcastle their goal during the 3-1 defeat.

Parker began the game communicating regularly with the defence but he became less vocal as the game progressed.

Once Jean-Alain Boumsong was sent off after giving away a penalty for a clumsy challenge on Peter Crouch, Parker had to focus on damage limitation.

His workload increased and fatigue set in as he tried to make up for the team's deficiencies.

WHAT THE SUPPORTERS THINK

Parker has played consistently well this season but slightly too defensively, although this is due to him having to compensate for obvious shortcomings in central defence behind him. He's not as good as Gerrard or Lampard. I don't see where he would fit into the England team ahead of these players but would take him ahead of someone like Jermaine Jenas who appears too lightweight at that level.
Richard, Newcastle fan

I expected Parker to be a box-to-box player like Roy Keane of a few years ago for Manchester United, not box to just over half way.
Franz Beckenbramble, via 606 messageboards

Scott Parker is the only outfield player to have consistently performed for us. Where his game is lacking - i.e. the final third - is perhaps what would count against him, although I doubt he would be picked for such work anyway.
The_No, via 606 messageboards

I think at international level, having a defensive midfielder that just sits in front of the defence is not good enough. Chelsea's problem against Barcelona in the Champions League this season was playing with Claude Makelele, who is not used to making forays forward. Parker is unlikely to start in Germany, and as a substitute is not an attacking option if England fall behind.
Paul, Newcastle fan

If Scott Parker doesn't make it on the plane I will be seriously unimpressed. What more does he need to do? He plays in the right position week in, week out.
Oleg Luzhny, via 606 messageboards

WHAT THE GAFFER THINKS

Newcastle caretaker boss Glenn Roeder believes Parker, who was signed by previous manager Graeme Souness, is one player he can rely on to consistently produce good performances.

However, Roeder veered from answering whether he thought Parker would make the England squad, following the match against Liverpool last Sunday.

"I had no complaints with Parker's performance. He stuck at his task and was one of the players that did retain the ball," Roeder told BBC Sport.

"Whether he can make a late run for the World Cup squad is not a matter for me to talk about.

"All he can do is play well for Newcastle week in, week out like he has been doing all season."

THE VERDICT

Roeder's final comment about Parker is an old cliche, but probably true as far as his England prospects are concerned.

PARKER'S COMPETITION
Michael Carrick, Jermaine Jenas, Ledley King, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Owen Hargreaves

The 25-year-old may also have to rely on one of the current England midfielders getting injured in order to make it on to the plane to Germany.

Arriving at Newcastle has allowed Parker to play regular Premiership football.

However, the Magpies have undergone another season of turmoil where they have been closer to a battle against relegation than a fight for a European place.

Logic dictates that Eriksson will opt for Michael Carrick or Jermaine Jenas from high-flying Tottenham ahead of Parker for the final berths in England's midfield.

But when has logic ever dictated football?




SEE ALSO
World Cup scouting - Andrew Johnson
20 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool
19 Mar 06 |  Premiership


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