As far as international debuts are concerned, Steven Caulker’s appearance for England this week had its fair share of incidents.
The 20-year-old started in the centre of defence alongside Gary Cahill and proved both capable of handling international pressures but also raw on football’s biggest stage. Yet Spurs fans watching the live football online will have been pleased with his overall performance that showcased his potential to be England’s next great defender.
Up against one of the most lethal strikers across Europe in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Caulker handled his duties well, winning his fair share of aerial challenges and offering a structure to the team when in possession.
His goal was a typical centre-back’s finish: dropping off his marker at the far post to get on the end of Steven Gerrard’s wonderful bending free-kick. His ability to judge the flight of the ball makes him a lethal target man at set-pieces, as Joe Hart discovered last week with his goal against Man City.
The only thing that tarnished Caulker’s debut was Hart’s indecision, when the ‘keeper caused a real mess just half an hour in on Wednesday night after failing to clear his lines from a low Swedish cross. Caulker was underneath the ball and ready to clear, but hesitated when hearing the call of Hart; his goalkeeper never came, however, and England were lucky to survive that early scare.
Bar this misjudgement and some bad luck for Ibrahimovic’s first goal, Caulker gave manager Roy Hodgson convincing reason to select him for future England qualifiers. The Spurs youngster already has 12 games under his belt this season and is very much a first-choice player in AVB’s plans for Champions League qualification (check out the latest price for Spurs to finish in the top four in the bet365 football betting markets).
If the England defender keeps up his Spurs form and solidifies a partnership with Cahill, there is no reason to suggest he cannot surpass the 78 caps John Terry earned at centre-half, or even Rio Ferdinand’s 81.