England game in jeopardy as rioting spreads across the capital

 

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The Independent Online

The Football Association will take their lead from the Metropolitan Police this morning as to whether to proceed with tomorrow night's England friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley after the riots in London.

There were minor reports of violence in Harlesden and the Brent Cross shopping centre, both of which are near to Wembley Stadium. The final decision lies with the police, who are responsible for all public order outside the stadium, and the FA will have to follow whatever lead it is given.

As it stood at 7pm yesterday, the FA was of the understanding that the game was still on but with the situation in London changing all the time, there will be discussions throughout the day with the commanding police officer at the game. As usual there is a big crowd expected with around 70,000 tickets already sold and more still available, making it the best attended international friendly played anywhere in Europe this week.

The FA is regarded as one of world football's leading organisations when it comes to staging major games – as exemplified by the decision by Uefa to award Wembley a second Champions League final in 2013 after the success of the final in May. However, the FA will check this morning that there is no compromise of safety standards. A spokesman for the Met Police said: "Every football match is subject to some form of assessment around police resources. This is no different."

In the meantime, the England manager, Fabio Capello, finds himself without four of his first-choice midfielders following the withdrawal of Frank Lampard last night with flu symptoms. Earlier in the day, Jack Wilshere and Michael Carrick both went home with injuries picked up in the past 10 days. Steven Gerrard is missing long-term.

Capello called up Manchester United's 21-year-old Tom Cleverley, who impressed in Sunday's Community Shield win over Manchester City, for the first time to the senior squad.

Wilshere's ankle injury was picked up in pre-season and, although his club manager, Arsène Wenger, said over the weekend that there was no chance the player would feature at all in tomorrow's game, Capello made a point of calling him up so the FA staff could check the player. The England manager is not prepared simply to take the club's word when it comes to players withdrawing as a result of injuries.

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