Walcott's injury forces Capello to shuffle his pack

 

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The Independent Online

Theo Walcott is an injury doubt for England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales at Wembley tonight, when Fabio Capello has promised changes to the side that beat Bulgaria on Friday.

Capello said yesterday that, with Wales expected to defend much deeper tonight, he may well make changes to the team that started in Sofia as well as alter the 4-2-3-1 formation to cope with the threat of Gareth Bale on England's right side. However, Walcott's hamstring problem could make the decision over who to leave out much more straightforward if the winger fails to come through a fitness test today.

Walcott started on the right side of the bank of three behind Wayne Rooney on Friday but if Capello is to opt for a different strategy to cope with Bale he could bring in James Milner to shore up the right side of the midfield in a 4-3-3 formation. There is also a chance that Frank Lampard (pictured), left on the bench in Bulgaria, could come back into the team.

Even without Walcott's injury, Capello said yesterday that the Arsenal man is at his best when there is space behind the opposition's defence for him to run into, rather than when he is forced to play with his back to goal against a team that compresses the midfield. In answer to a question about Walcott, Capello said: "They [his attackers] counter-attack the space and we have really good players, technically. With space, it's easier. When you arrive in front of goal running [ie, running at goal], it's easier. When you receive with your back to goal, it's really different."

Capello also questioned yesterday whether Arsenal had made the right decision in allowing Jack Wilshere to go on holiday this summer rather than bringing him back to the club for treatment on the ankle injury he picked up playing against Switzerland in June.

The matter of Wilshere's current injury – which could rule him out for up to three months – is a delicate subject for the England manager, given that the problems started in that Euro 2012 qualifier earlier this summer.

Capello said yesterday that the medical department had told him that Wilshere's injury was a repetition of one he had suffered in 2009.

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