Kevin Cyril Davies: England's new hope.
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“My half brother is Jamaican so I might try for them, I have more chance of getting into that squad than the England one!”
Those were the words of Bolton striker Kevin Davies a few months back. Now, the 33-year-old with the middle name ‘Cyril’ is in Fabio Capello’s squad for the game with Montenegro and is ready to eat those words by claiming his first cap.
Pub quiz aficionados may now have to deal with one less answer for the question: Which players cost over £7 million but have never played for England? Carl Cort, Michael Bridges and Dean Richards are some of the names on offer but, from next week, Davies may not be another. So is his call-up a well deserved one, or does it just go to show how small the striking pool for England is?
In fact, it’s a little of both. Think international striker and the name Kevin Cyril Davies does not come immediately to mind - unless perhaps England are playing an exceptional physical side on a quagmire of a pitch. The Bolton man is not the most cultured on the ball and has developed a reputation as something of a hardman during his spells with Southampton, Blackburn and now at the Reebok.
But, as he has proved this season, his is a game that is effective in certain conditions. He would certainly struggle playing for a side like Barcelona or Arsenal, where the focus of the game is on short passing, and yet has found his feet under a coach like Sam Allardyce who favours the more direct approach.
Tough, strong, uncompromising and committed, he perhaps has all the qualities of an excellent central defender, while his goalscoring record follows suit: he has reached double figures just once since the turn of the Century. But he fills a gap. A fairly sizeable gap left by the retired Emile Heskey.
In England’s current situation - with Jermain Defoe, Bobby Zamora and Theo Walcott injured, and Wayne Rooney in indifferent form - Davies is the type of player than Capello would want to call upon to hold the ball up, and create space for others. Heskey performed the role admirably, despite criticism over his lack of goals, and Davies is cut from the same stone - albeit one that perhaps pushes the boundaries a little more.
In truth, Capello had very little other option. Darren Bent, Peter Crouch and Rooney will share the responsibilities of leading the hunt for goals, while Davies will likely be called into action only if needed. It is a nice reward for a player who has become a focal point of his club side, even if he has not won many neutrals over with his style of play.
West Ham’s Carlton Cole may rue his early season form, as he can count himself unlucky to be overlooked. But in the search to replace Emile ‘Ivanhoe’ Heskey, Cyril takes centre stage for now.