Does the King of White Hart Lane deserve a Euro 2012 call-up?
By Jordan Florit
Tuesday 06 Dec 2011 22:39:00
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Tottenham are flying high at the moment and their form in unparalleled. Over the past 6 Premier League games, Tottenham have picked up all available 18 points. No other team in the Premier League can match that recent unbeaten streak and it has, of course, drawn plaudits. Since a condemning start to the Premier League campaign, which saw Spurs on the wrong end of a 3-0 and 5-1 loss to Manchester City and then their rivals Manchester United, Harry Redknapp's men have only conceded a further eight goals. This means that half their total goals conceded came in those first two games. Since then, Tottenham have been unbeaten, winning 10 of their 11 since United and only Manchester City have gone unbeaten for longer this season. Rightly so then, Tottenham will go 2nd if they win their game in hand, leapfrogging Manchester United.

Missing those first two games of the season, in which Spurs let in 50% of their total conceded goals, was Ledley King. The Tottenham centre-back, a one-club man and club captain, missed his club's pre-season tour of South Africa after yet another knee operation. Initially just a doubt for the planned season opener against Everton, King missed the first two games of the PL campaign, even though he was given an extra week due to the London Riots enforced postponement of the Everton clash. It was an all too familiar story for King and his fans. His recurrent lingering knee problems had again infringed his season, but come the third game of the season, he was back and so were Tottenham's winning ways.

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In Ledley King's 9 starts this season, Spurs have conceded 5 goals. Comparable to conceding 13 without him in 4 games and 60 minutes of football, it is clear when Tottenham are better. When their captain is in the back four, they only concede once every 150 minutes of football; without him they let in a goal every 32.92 minutes. Their 428 minutes of playing time without King are 428 minutes of poorer defending. His defensive ability and leadership of the back line is essential. Simply put, they're defensively five times better when King is playing.

So does Tottenham's skipper deserve a plane ticket to Poland & Ukraine next summer? Well, yes. Unfortunately though, his international career has arguably been even more hampered by injury than his club career. Along with his ever-present knee condition, King has suffered a fractured foot bone and a groin strain, which have both resulted in untimely departures from England camps. His regularity at the physio's table has limited, "without doubt one of the best central defenders in England," in Capello's opinion, to a meagre 21 international caps.

In Ledley King's 21 appearances for England, since his debut against Italy in a friendly on 27th March 2002 aged 21, they have conceded 13 goals. Therefore, when the Tottenham centre-back is featuring for the Three Lions, they concede on average 0.62 goals per game. Since his debut, England have played 127 games and in the 106 without King, England have conceded 80 goals. Comparably put, England have conceded 0.75 goals per game, when King isn't participating. The country's defence is 0.13 goals better off when the Spurs skipper is in the back four.

Despite the stats clearly showing both club and country being better off with Ledley King in the starting XI, the former may well show reluctance when it comes to calling the 31-year old up. In the 4 international competitions that England have qualified for since King made his debut, the centre-back has only featured in 2. He wasn't part of Sven Goran-Eriksson's 2002 World Cup squad, but was in his Euro 2004 squad. For the World Cup 2006, King was left at home, having fractured a bone in his foot and four years later, his World Cup in South Africa only lasted 45 minutes after pulling his groin in the first half against U.S.A.

A lot of the weight of the decision will fall on King's fitness come next summer. He is unlikely to play in any games for England between now and the European tournament, with Harry Redknapp stating that as much as he'd, "love to see him play for England, he simply cannot play two games in a week." He said that back in 2009 and with the story being no different two years later when it comes to fixture congestion and Ledley's knee, it is likely to still stand. As it is, King only trains with his team the day before a match, spending the rest of the week training alone, in the pool or on a bike.

At current, he is enjoying a rare run of consistent games in the Premier League and the talk of a new contract is in the air, with his current one set to expire in the summer. A string of performances that reads unbeaten for almost 16 months, with 12 wins out of 13, should warrant himself another extension, meeting Redknapp's expectation of 2009: "I hope we can get another four of five years out of him - and maybe for England."

But does Ledley King deserve another reward in the summer of 2012 - a place in Capello's 23-man squad?

Written by Jordan Florit for For more articles visit my website or my Twitter @JordanFlorit

You can also follow England Fansonline on Twitter @1HellOfABeating 




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