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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
World Cup Scouting - Sol Campbell
Sven-Goran ErikssonSol CampbellSupportersArsenal boss Arsene WengerShould Sol Campbell go to Germany?

By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport at Highbury

Sven-Goran Eriksson has named his 23-man squad which will carry England's hopes during the World Cup.

Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, for so long this season a doubt as he suffered form and fitness problems, has made the cut and will be on the plane to Germany.

But is the 31-year-old ready for such a major competition? BBC Sport went to the last game at Highbury to find out.

ENGLAND HISTORY

Campbell made his international debut as a substitute against Hungary in May 1996 and quickly cemented his place at the heart of the England defence.

He was chosen ahead of the more experienced Gareth Southgate to partner Tony Adams in the 1998 World Cup and has been practically first-choice pick ever since.

The former Spurs defender became the rock around which the England backline was built under a succession of different managers.

His displays at the 2002 World Cup earned him a place in the Fifa team of the tournament and cemented his reputation as one of the world's premier exponents of the art of defending.

However, his more recent history at international level is far less convincing.

Campbell last played for the national team in October and has not played a full 90 minutes for Eriksson since the 1-0 win over Azerbaijan in Baku on 13 October 2004.

Worryingly, Campbell was left out of the starting XI to face Argentina in November with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand the chosen centre-backs.

SOL CAMPBELL - THE FORM GUIDE

Campbell's World Cup year has been clouded by form, fitness and personal issues.

His season hit rock bottom in the 3-2 defeat by West Ham at Highbury in February, when he was substituted at half-time after his errors led to two Hammers goals.

Wenger subsequently allowed Campbell to take a break and an ankle injury meant nine more games passed before he was seen in an Arsenal shirt again.

SOL CAMPBELL FACTFILE
Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell
Born: 18/09/74, Newham
Clubs: Spurs, Arsenal
Career games: 509
Career goals: 25
England caps: 66
England goals: 1

With time to prove his fitness for the World Cup ticking away, Campbell then suffered a broken nose in his comeback game at Portsmouth last month and missed another three games.

But injury to Philippe Senderos has allowed Campbell back in the side at a crucial stage - however, if he had hoped to get an easy ride against Wigan, Campbell did not get it.

Things started well when he came up for a corner and was on hand to send a glancing header into the path of Robert Pires for the Frenchman to put Arsenal 1-0 up early on.

But Campbell was then given a torrid time by Wigan's top-scorer Jason Roberts as Wigan hit back twice to take the lead.

Like his team-mates, Campbell was nowhere to be seen when Paul Scharner ghosted in to poke home Wigan's equaliser and he was then lucky not to concede a penalty after being burned for pace by Roberts.

Soon after, a badly-timed jump allowed Roberts the space to turn and send in a dangerous ball for strike partner Henri Camara.

Campbell's passing out of defence was solid all game, and he got an easier ride in the second half as Thierry Henry's goals made the game safe for Arsenal.

WHAT THE SUPPORTERS THINK

I think he is more experienced and can cope with footballing pressure now. He has proved himself with Arsenal time and again after coming back from injury to perform even better.
Rosso, Kenya, via email

Against Villarreal he was off the pace and awkward but since then he's slowly turned it round. I would have to pick Terry and Ferdinand ahead of him but he's worth his squad place for his level of consistency at international level. I just feel that he is always likely to make a critical mistake at some stage.
Nathan, Arsenal fan

I don't think he is good enough for Arsenal or England. He has lost a lot of pace and his positioning is woeful. I hope Senderos gets fit for the Barca game as Sol will struggle against them. He has been great for us and England, but I think it's time to hang up his boots.
Paul Davis, England, via email

Something has happened to Campbell since the infamous walk-out. He looks more mentally focused than he has been for a long time. So Wenger must have sorted his head out which means he is ready for the World Cup. He has got sharper each game too. He should start instead of Terry.
Jimmy Morris, England, via email

He was dismantled by Jason Roberts, he has become clumsy and has lost his pace. He looks to be the weak link in a record-breaking defence. His resolve used to be his strength, but even that looks to have gone. Come in number 23, your time is definitely up.
Bobo, Russia, via email

Sol has immense pedigree for England in major competitons. His experience will be vital to the squand - and he won't disappoint if selected for action. Come on England, come on Sol!
Lawrence Blomfield, England, via email

WHAT THE GAFFER THINKS

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has never had any doubts that Campbell would be in the right frame of mind and physically fit enough to board the plane to Germany.

On 12 April, before Campbell had even made his comeback after two-and-a-half-months out through injury, Wenger publicly backed his centre-half's World Cup credentials.

"I have spoken to Sven and told him that Sol will be ready for selection," said Wenger.

"I would be happy if Sol can combine playing for Arsenal and the World Cup. I want him to go to Germany.

"Playing will give him the opportunity to show he is ready for England. He has the quality to be first-choice for England."

After his comeback game against Portsmouth, Wenger commented: "I feel he has proven he is fit to play for England, I will leave the rest to Sven.

"I believe he will be available for England."

THE VERDICT

Campbell has returned to action just in time to book his place in the squad for Germany.

CAMPBELL'S COMPETITION
Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Jamie Carragher

But he clearly does not have the sharpness which made him a first-choice centre-back for Sven-Goran Eriksson in Japan and South Korea four years ago.

With John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in better form and physical condition after full seasons for their clubs, there is little to suggest Campbell can knock them out of the team.

But his World Cup experience makes him a good player to have available if injuries start to bite.




SEE ALSO
Arsenal 4-2 Wigan
07 May 06 |  Premiership
England scouting review
09 May 06 |  England
England's World Cup form guide
08 May 06 |  England


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