Capello to rotate as he eyes Croatia
England set to rest booked players for Andorra game in order to avoid suspensions
Tuesday 09 June 2009
Fabio Capello is preparing to rest Emile Heskey and Glen Johnson for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Andorra to make sure they do not pick up another booking that would rule them out of September's game against Croatia. Both players are already on yellow cards and risk being suspended for the match against Slaven Bilic's team at Wembley next season.
There are expected to be around three to four changes to the England team that faced Kazakhstan in Almaty on Saturday. Capello and his coaching staff are aware that they have 10 squad players who did not play in the game against Kazakhstan on Saturday despite making the 16-hour round trip to central Asia and they are eager to get as many involved in the Andorra match as possible.
There is a possibility that Gary Neville, 34, will play his first game for England since February 2007, probably as a second-half substitute, against the nation rated 196th in the world by Fifa. Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole would be the contenders for Heskey's place. Gareth Barry is already out having been booked against Kazakhstan and he is due to be presented as a Manchester City player today.
David Beckham is on a booking from the Ukraine game in April, and he too may not be risked against Andorra. With Johnson a possibility to be rested after his booking against Ukraine it means that Shaun Wright-Phillips could be tried out at right-back, having played there when Beckham came on in the second half against Kazakhstan. Capello is short of right-backs, having ignored Manchester City's Micah Richards since he took the job.
Capello has had his squad together now for 10 days and, while he does not want to disrupt the shape of his team too much, he does want to try different personnel against one of the weakest international sides an England team has ever faced. Theo Walcott suffered blisters during the game against Kazakhstan but, having been substituted at half-time, he is fit to play tomorrow.
It has been a long 10 days for the England squad at the end of the season but the players went out yesterday from their hotel to attend a film screening at a local cinema in Watford in aid of the children's cancer charity Clic Sargent.
The Football Association is still waiting for resolution on the proposed Tube strike tomorrow by members of the RMT union who are in dispute with London Underground. The action will affect the safety certificate given to Wembley by Brent council for the match against Andorra and means that as of last night, the FA had suspended ticket sales to keep the crowd at 70,000, which is 20,000 below Wembley's capacity.
The England defender Matthew Upson has left the door open to a possible move away from West Ham United this summer when he admitted yesterday that playing Champions League football could help him to establish himself in the England team. The 30-year-old will start again tomorrow against Andorra after Rio Ferdinand failed to respond to treatment on his back problem.
Upson said: "It's opened up for me, definitely. I just need to stay focused, playing and doing what I have been doing, keep improving and I'm enjoying it. I'm very positive about it. Being first choice is in my mind. That's what I'm striving for every day. I'm coming from a negative position in terms of where Rio and John Terry have been.
"They're well established, solid and to come in and make myself a permanent fixture in the team is a very difficult task but it doesn't mean it's impossible for me. It's not my selection but I just have to keep pushing.
"The World Cup is a year away, too far away and it's too early to say. I would say that more European experience in a campaign would help me.
"I would definitely agree with that. Playing in the Champions League every season definitely puts you in a position where you can compete against the best players in the world.
"I know that the Premier League holds a lot of those players but worldwide there's a lot of different talent, different tactical situations you're going to find yourself in other than the Premier League."
History men England bid for perfect record
With six victories out of six, this has already been England's best start to a qualifying campaign, and with Andorra next up at Wembley it is all but sure to continue. The most wins England have managed in a campaign is eight, a feat achieved qualifying for the last World Cup, and with three games to follow the Andorra fixture, Capello's men are set to surpass that record.
What chance of a perfect campaign? England have managed a 100 per cent qualifying record on two previous occasions, for the 1950 and 1954 World Cups, however each qualifying group only consisted of the four British teams playing each other once.
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