Capello keeps his keepers guessing

James behind Hart and Green to start but decision will only be taken on match day
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The Independent Football

Joe Hart and Robert Green will have to wait until Saturday to learn which one of them will face the United States in England's first World Cup group game, with Fabio Capello unwilling to break his own rules on naming the line-up in order to give them a chance to prepare.

It has become a feature of the Capello regime that the team is named only hours before kick-off but with such a big decision looming over his No 1 goalkeeper it was anticipated by the squad that the chosen one would at least be given 24 hours to ready himself. Hart, who has never started a competitive game for England, is thought to be marginally ahead in Capello's thinking but the Italian is notorious for changing his mind at the last minute.

Capello's usual approach on match day is to take a walk in the morning with his general manager Franco Baldini in order to clarify his thoughts on team selection. He then announces his team to the squad and staff before they leave the hotel. He is not willing to change his usual practice to give Saturday's new goalkeeper any extra time to prepare.

Hart is regarded by the Capello camp as the sharper of the two goalkeepers, while Green is the more consistent and experienced. David James has a minor knee injury and, despite having trained every day, is considered out of the running for Saturday.

James Milner is expected back in training today after two days out with a temperature. He is anticipated to be in direct competition with Joe Cole for the place on the left wing. The Aston Villa man has been struck down with a similar illness to the one that affected Matthew Upson earlier in the week but he has been passed fit to join in again today.

With so many issues around the team selection still up in the air, the backroom staff expect matters to become clearer as Capello begins sifting through the DVDs and scouting reports on the US team that have been compiled for him. It is normal practice to begin looking in detail at the opposition in the last few days before a game so that he can tailor his side to their weaknesses.

Gareth Barry has continued to make good progress in his recovery from the damaged ankle ligaments which those around Capello say has improved the manager's mood – despite his brief outburst against photographers taking pictures of the team hotel yesterday. Today the squad are having their one training session completely behind closed doors which they are entitled to under Fifa rules in the run-up to a game.

How England's 'keepers compare

David James

Games played since World Cup qualification started: 7

Minutes on pitch: 508

Likely first-choice were it not for injuries.

Robert Green

Games played: 9

Minutes on pitch: 643

Capello's pick for much of the campaign, but club displays have wavered.

Joe Hart

Games played: 2

Minutes on pitch: 90

Despite limited playing time, he's the form player and could get the nod.