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Andy Cole's omission from England's Euro 2000 squad may not concern many of his critics.

Manchester United's striker was not guaranteed a place in Kevin Keegan's squad, even if he had not pulled out with a foot injury. But Cole represented one of the few goal-scoring threats in Keegan's inexperienced pool of forwards.

England's last three games have produced five goals, four from set pieces. Other than the odd David Beckham corner or free kick, neither Alan Shearer nor his numerous partners have looked like posing real threat on goal.

On the face of it Keegan might be pleased that Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Emile Heskey scored in consecutive games. But closer inspection of the goals would prove that each was unimpressive.

What are the chances of Robbie Fowler being unmarked in the six yard box against Germany? Or Owen getting the fortune to stand on the ball, subsequently sending an entire defence the wrong way? Or Heskey facing another defence like Malta's?

More concerning is the amount of opportunities wasted in between those goals.

Heskey's miss against Ukraine was the latest in a long line for the Liverpool striker. But Keegan has turned a blind eye to his blatant ineptness in front of goal. Yet Andy Cole has been frozen out despite having a vastly superior strike rate.

As Manchester United's all time record scorer in Europe, Cole is proven at the highest level. To say he is not good enough to score against Sweden, when he consistently scores against the likes of Barcelona and Juventus does not stand up to scrutiny.

Barring Shearer and Owen, none of England's strikers have European let alone international scoring pedigree. Which is why Cole will be so sorely missed in the finals.

Should anything happen to Keegan's first pairing of Shearer and Owen, he will have to rely on the unknown quantities of his backup strikers.

Heskey is emerging as his favourite. But his glaring misses for Liverpool and England suggest he is not international class -- at least not yet.

Fowler is undoubtedly a striker of the highest quality. But in his few England opportunities, he has failed to impress.

Injuries have taken their toll and Fowler looks heavier, slower and still cannot complete ninety minutes.

Kevin Phillips probably would have missed out if Cole had been fit. His thirty goals for Sunderland are evidence of his potential, but in international football, pace is imperative to gain a yard of space to take your chance.

Phillips is a cool finisher and player in general, and a deeper Teddy Sheringham role would suit him better at this level.

England's lack of goals is not entirely down to the strikers. A striker is only as good as the service he gets. Service, which is conspicuously lacking in England's uncreative midfield.

The lack of a left-winger means there is absolutely no service from that side. Nicky Barmby will get the role on the left flank and his clever passes can pose a threat. But he will not whip crosses in, subsequently taking the pace out any attack from the left.

David Beckham is the best crosser in the world. But he rarely gets into the advanced positions with England that he exploits for Manchester United. When he does get the opportunity to cross, it is generally from a set piece, which is why England are so dangerous from free kicks and corners.

Paul Scholes is comfortably Keegan's best player, and represents England?s main goal threat. The Manchester United midfielder seems to play better at international level. With his late runs and accurate shooting, he always looks the most likely to score form open play.

With nine goals already, Scholes is the second highest scorer behind Shearer in the squad. More significantly his goals tend to be vital, with only one coming in a friendly -- his debut in Le Tournoi.

But a team cannot solely rely on goals from midfield. Had Andy Cole been risked, his pace and experience could have turned out to be England's secret weapon.
 

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How many chances would you give to Andy Cole though? He's so far failed to score at the highest level, i.e for the National team!
In 7 appearances for England, Cole has failed to score, or even look like he can score. Each of the strikers you mention in the above post (bar Phillips) have at least impressed and even scored on the International stage.
I for one am glad that Cole is missing from the England Squad. If he had gone to Euro2000 the only player that he could/should have replaced would have been Heskey.
That said Heskey did impress in the game against Argentina, and thus his inclusion in the squad.
 
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