Stats: Should John Terry be recalled by England?

Chelsea captain John Terry is having an impressive season under Jose Mourinho, and has been tipped for a recall to the England squad.

With the World Cup fast approaching, former Three Lions skipper Terry has certainly made his case to manager Roy Hodgson for a return to the setup, with the 33-year-old announcing his retirement in September 2012 following an FA investigation against Terry.

Hodgson has previously said that his England side managed to qualify for the World Cup without Terry and would be heading in to the tournament without him too, suggesting that England need to go forward rather than go back to their past.

But, ultimately, Hodgson needs to select players in top form if he is to enjoy success in Brazil this summer, so how does Terry stack up against other English defenders bidding to make it into Hodgson's team? Here are some stats to show how Terry compares to Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling and his Chelsea team mate Gary Cahill.


PlayerTeamPosError Lead To ShotError Lead To GoalGoals ConcededAppsMins
Phil Jagielka Everton DF 3 1 23 22 1,980
John Terry Chelsea DF 2 0 20 24 2,160
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 1 1 19 17 1,218
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 0 0 13 17 1,530

In tournament football, you are only ever one big mistake away from elimination. Errors can of course occur to anybody, but those prone to mistakes may find it difficult to make an impact at the World Cup. The stats show that Everton's Phil Jagielka has committed three errors leading to a shot, with one of those hitting the back of the net. Terry ranks second with two errors leading to a shot, and whilst none have led to goals, that may well be because he has Petr Cech behind him. It's a small sample size at this point in the season, but there have to be concerns about Terry's recovery ability at his age. This table also reads favourably for Cahill, who has committed no errors, whilst Chelsea have only conceded 13 goals whilst he has played.

Aerial ability

PlayerTeamPosAerial WonAerial LostHead ClearanceAtt Hd TotalAppsMins
John Terry Chelsea DF 79 40 109 12 24 2,160
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 67 26 84 9 17 1,530
Phil Jagielka Everton DF 64 44 116 6 22 1,980
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 38 21 73 4 17 1,218

An important attribute for central defenders is to win aerial battles. If England are leading late in a game, the ball will be aimed high into the box and Hodgson will need to know that his defenders can deal with the high balls in order to seal a result. Terry has won 79 of his 119 aerial battles this season (66%), second to only Cahill, who led with 72%. Phil Jagielka was the least impressive in this category, winning 59% of his aerial battles, but the Everton man did lead with 116 headed clearances - and again Terry was second in this area. Additionally, Hodgson will be hoping for his defenders to contribute in an attacking sense, an area where Terry has always been impressive. His 12 headed attempts on goal is by far the most of the four centre backs, and his impressive stats across the board here serve to demonstrate that Terry is still a great force in the air.


PlayerTeamPosInterception WonInterception Won / appsAppsMins
Phil Jagielka Everton DF 38 1.73 22 1,980
John Terry Chelsea DF 27 1.13 24 2,160
Chris Smalling Man Utd DF 15 0.88 17 1,218
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 13 0.76 17 1,530

Interceptions are of course vitally important to defensive play. Breaking up attacks prevents the goalkeeper from even needing to make a save, and this aspect of the game will be of interest to Hodgson. Whilst Jagielka has struggled in most areas so far, he leads with 38 interceptions won this season, averaging at 1.73 per game. Terry again proves his well balanced game by ranking in second place here, and his reading of the game is what has kept him at the top for so long. It's somewhat surprising to see Cahill ranking so lowly here, but his impressive statistics elsewhere still make him a primary option in defence.

Gary Lineker recently said after Chelsea's 1-0 win at Manchester City that the combination of Terry and Cahill is the best that England have, and their impressive statistics would suggest that he is right, and the duo should take their domestic partnership to the international stage.

But with Hodgson seemingly stubborn towards a recall for Terry, what would it take to bring the Chelsea man back into the England setup?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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