Davies: I'll give it my best shot
Kevin Davies has vowed to shrug off the nerves and give it his best shot after being handed a surprise England call-up by Fabio Capello. Only days after claiming he had given up on ever representing his country, the 33-year-old has answered the Italian's SOS for next Tuesday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier with Montenegro at Wembley.
With Jermain Defoe, Bobby Zamora and Gabriel Agbonlahor all ruled out through injury, and Carlton Cole losing his regular place at West Ham United, Davies has profited from Andy Carroll's loss of form at Newcastle United. The decision rather flies in the face of Capello's post-FIFA World Cup™ statement to look to the future, and must also give hope to 35-year-old David Beckham, who was dismissed on the basis that he is too old.
Davies might not be threatening Leslie Compton, England's oldest post-War debutant, who was 38 when he made his bow against Wales in 1950, or Alec Morten, who was in his forties when he faced Scotland in 1873, but it would still be a remarkable story.
"I just have to go along and enjoy the experience of being involved with the international team, and if I get the chance to play I will do my best to impress," he told Bolton Wanderers' official website. "It is a really proud moment for me and my family. I am sure there will be a few nerves over the next couple of days and it hasn't really sunk in yet, but I am looking forward to this opportunity and I'm going to give it my best shot."
Davies is the stand-out name in a list of surprises, which include recalls for South Africa 2010 trio Joe Cole, Robert Green and Aaron Lennon. Bolton manager Owen Coyle might be a relatively recent arrival at the Reebok Stadium, but it has not taken the Scot long to understand the unselfish contribution his skipper makes to the Trotters' cause.
"He has got his rewards for the high level of performances that he has produced week in, week out," said the 44-year-old. "He works exceptionally hard on a day-to-day basis and I am sure he will give Mr Capello absolutely 100 per cent."
Whether Davies does get a run out at Wembley is open to debate. The presence of Wayne Rooney is hardly a shock given the open invitation given to Capello by Sir Alex Ferguson to pick him. Like the Manchester United striker, Peter Crouch is one of 14 members of England's South Africa 2010 squad to retain his place, while Sunderland's Darren Bent is now beginning to get the attention his club boss Steve Bruce has always felt he deserved.
"Bent is back," Capello told TheFA.com. "In front of goal, he is really dangerous. "He played 20 minutes against Switzerland and scored an important goal. Now he is training really well. He is probably one of the important players for the future."
Green will be happy to be chosen, even if he has slipped to number three in the goalkeeping pecking order. The West Ham man must have wondered whether he would ever play for his country again after his clanger against USA in Rustenburg that set the tone for England's abysmal campaign.
Cole's exile has proved to be brief, lasting only three games, which in part was probably due to the suspension he had to serve following his dismissal on his Premier League debut for Liverpool. An injury to Theo Walcott and James Milner's suspension have helped the former Chelsea playmaker as well, which is probably also true of Arsenal teenage Jack Wilshere, who will link up with the senior squad after the first leg of England's UEFA European U-21 play-off against Romania at Carrow Road on Friday.
Yet for Capello, the big decisions still have to be made. In the absence of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, Phil Jagielka turned in two towering performances against Bulgaria and Switzerland last month as England began their EURO 2012 qualifying campaign in style.
It would be very harsh if Jagielka had to make way now, so both Terry and Ferdinand will be sweating on their places against the only other side in the group to boast a 100 per cent record.
For Ferdinand, there is also the captaincy to worry about. Having lost out on the honour for Manchester United due to his questionable fitness, he will now discover whether Capello believes a paltry two appearances in ten games since Terry's sacking means the role should go to Steven Gerrard.