Fabio Capello will start his four days of preparation for Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales today with the intention of partnering Liverpool striker Andy Carroll with Wayne Rooney in attack for England.
The Capello camp have been warned by Kenny Dalglish that his £35m striker is not yet back to full fitness after his thigh injury but, having watched him against Sunderland on Sunday, they believe that Carroll is ready to start against Wales. It remains a gamble on a player who has played just once before for the senior team, against France in November.
It will also mean leaving out Peter Crouch whose goalscoring record for England, not to mention his international experience, would suggest that he is the better option at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. However, Capello's intention is to go with Carroll if he is convinced that the player is fit to play.
The England squad will fly to Cardiff on Friday rather than drive the 120 miles from their base in Hertfordshire to Wales. It is anticipated that the stadium's roof will be open for the game. It was shut for the Six Nations rugby union game between England and Wales in February. In order for it to be closed on Saturday, both managers would have to acquiesce.
The Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson became the first England player to speak about John Terry's reinstatement as England captain and – to no one's surprise – refused to be drawn into the debate as to the merits of Capello's decision.
"What has gone on has nothing to do with anyone," Johnson said. "John Terry has been a fantastic captain for Chelsea and England. I am sure he will carry on doing the same job. Obviously Rio will be upset to lose the armband. But he is a big man and he will pick himself up and get on with it.
"I don't think it will be a divisive issue. Everyone is a professional and they will go about their job in the right way. I am sure everyone will be fine."
It will be Johnson who has to mark Gareth Bale on Saturday, which will be an exacting examination of the full-back's occasionally shaky defensive qualities.Reuse content