Should Steven Taylor have been called up to the England squad?

Steven Taylor has been in very good form in the last couple of weeks and possibly deserved a call up to the England squad this month.

Against Anzhi, he was yet again sublime particularly when Lassana Diarra looked certain to score not once but twice. The 27 year old put in two blocks and his contribution was arguably as important as Papiss Cisse’s last minute winner. This season it has been no surprise that when Taylor has been in Newcastle’s starting 11 they have performed better and looked a lot more solid with him at the back. One thing that does go unnoticed though a lot of the time is his passing accuracy, in recent games he has been close to 100% and he clearly has learnt a lot from his regular centre back partner Fabricio Coloccini in being composed at the back and building attacks from there rather than just sending it long and pointless as others do so often.

Taylor has been around the squad for a long time now since making his debut in the 2003-04 season and may feel that in that time he has deserved a call up to the full England squad. His record at youth level has been good for England and he even has a cap at B level but that full England cap still seems to allude him. He is everything you want in a centre back, he is brave and rarely loses the ball when it is in the air and has improved immensely when strikers or quick wingers are running at him.

With England struggling for options at the back these days it is a surprise to me that he didn’t get called up this time but if he keeps his current form for the rest of the season there is no doubt in my mind that the calls for him to be included in a squad will get louder and louder. There are only a few reasons why I think he won’t get called up and they are simply because England managers, including Roy Hodgson seem reluctant to come to the North East to watch Newcastle and Sunderland games so there is very little chance of a call up from either squad. But, possibly another reason is because he sometimes does things that are very strange and his antics could be costing him. He seems to do some things to get the crowd going and to get a cheer rather than just being more professional, an example of this is when he has laid on the ground to header the ball instead of just clearing it with his foot. Also, his actions towards Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in the recent win showed a different side to him and if he did that on a national level it would be much bigger news and he would be criticised for it.

For me though, Steven Taylor should be in this England squad and could have even started because he is in better form than Chris Smalling. With Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill given opportunities already and not really making the position there own it may have been better to try someone like Taylor. Then there is Rio Ferdinand, is he still good enough? He probably is and I think Taylor and Ferdinand would have formed a great partnership.

Will Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Dawson be the right options for QPR?

QPR manager Mark Hughes is reacting quickly to his side’s 5-0 defeat against Swansea City on the opening day of the season by trying to recruit some new defenders.

I was really surprised that Hughes didn’t try and strengthen the defence to begin with as they already had a decent enough strike force with Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse as well as the always unpredictable Adel Taarabt. Just look at the defence that started on the opening day, Fabio, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha with Ryan Nelsen on the bench. Fabio is only young and could improve but he is not the best at defending yet and looks better going forward. Anton Ferdinand has never been more than an average centre back in the Premier League and if he is first choice your team will mostly finish in the bottom half closer to relegation. Onuoha, just simply hasn’t lived up to his potential when he first came through at Manchester City and it could be a long season for him. Finally, Clint Hill, how on earth is he a Premier League? Yes, first season up leave him in there, but now the ambitions have changed and surely someone better should have came in.

QPR have bid for Michael Dawson and he has been a fantastic centre back for Spurs over the years, although he can be a little injury prone. But, he is exactly what the team needs, he isn’t afraid to put his head in where it hurts and just seems to want to block every shot and will throw his body in the way. He has played 242 times for Tottenham and this Premier League experience will be invaluable to QPR and he would play like a leader on the pitch whether he is given the captain’s armband or not. Now that it is known that he is available there may be other offers from clubs but I think realistically he will join QPR if he leaves Spurs because it means he can stay in London and they will surely offer him a very good contract with a high wage.

Dawson has four caps for England

Next, Ricardo Carvalho is reportedly close to joining the club on a season long loan from Real Madrid and even though he is 34, I think he is one of the best centre backs to have ever played in the Premier League. He made John Terry look like a great defender as Carvalho’s positioning got him out of a lot of bad situations and to me it is not coincidence that Terry has looked a shadow of his former self since the departure of Carvalho. He played 210 times for the London club but the only problem is that he only played 13 times for Real Madrid last season so there will be question marks over his fitness and form.

Carvalho has played 75 times for Portugal

These are the sort of signings Mark Hughes should have been making from the beginning but unfortunately it seems like he currently has 11 individuals on the pitch rather than a team and if he doesn’t sort that out soon then a relegation battle will be on his hand yet again.

Who will Sebastien Bassong play for next season?

Sebastien Bassong has had a tough time since joining the Premier League but will he get another chance to show he has enough quality to stay in England?

The central defender is currently at Tottenham Hotspur but it looks as though his time at the club is coming to end after being shipped out on loan to Wolves for the second half of last season. In his three seasons at White Hart Lane he has only played 44 league games and has had to settle for a place on the bench a lot of the time with manager Harry Redknapp preferring others like Ledley King, Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Younes Kaboul. The 25 year old does have time on his hands but he hasn’t quite lived up to the potential he showed at Newcastle United where in his only season there, he was voted their player of the season, however this was in their relegation season and nobody performed that well and it can’t have been such an honour to win the award. In his loan spell at Wolves he also suffered relegation and did not perform that well, although he cannot be blamed for their relegation, he still has to take some of the blame as he did not look good enough for the Premier League.

So will anyone in the Premier League take him on or will he have to go back abroad or into the Championship? I think any of the three promoted teams should have a look at him as they all lack a little bit of experience in that area. West Ham currently have James Tomkins and Winston Reid as their starting pair but after releasing Abdoulaye Faye, they will need some competition and cover. Reading are also suffering from a lack of experience in that area with both Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss hardly kicking a ball in the Premier League so Bassong would at least have a little more knowledge, and personally I think he is slightly better than Gorkss. Southampton have two good centre backs in Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld but they do lack cover so they will need to bring in someone so why not Bassong, I cannot imagine Spurs wanting a big transfer fee for him but his wages maybe a stumbling block.

Other teams that are already in the Premier League may also like the look of him because of how well he did at Newcastle and the talent he has shown at times at Spurs. Stoke City may be interested in signing him as he will add a slightly better ball playing defender to their team. With Matthew Upson and Jonathon Woodgate not exactly performing as well as manager Tony Pulis expected he may be in the market for another defender.

Finally, I believe QPR should be looking at him as they struggled terribly at the back at times this season and he is a much better player than Clint Hill and is arguably better than Anton Ferdinand so I believe he would walk into their team.