Crouch lands the No 9 shirt

Striker closes in on starting role as squad fly to South Africa as Capello commits future to England

Peter Crouch has been handed the No 9 squad number for the World Cup finals by Fabio Capello in the biggest hint yet that the prolific Tottenham striker has supplanted Emile Heskey in England's first XI.

Glen Johnson was given the No 2 shirt, which suggests he will be ahead of Jamie Carragher (No 18) for right-back. Gareth Barry, still recovering from an ankle ligament injury, has nonetheless been given the No 11 shirt. David James has the No 1 jersey, although Capello, who yesterday finally signed his new FA contract to remove the post-World Cup break clause, is still insistent that he will not make his mind up about his first-choice goalkeeper until he has seen his players train in South Africa.

The squad were due to touch down in Johannesburg this morning with the exact personnel in Capello's first XI still unresolved. Heskey was only given a substitute's appearance in the second warm-up game against Japan in Graz on Sunday. In the previous game against Mexico, Crouch started and scored his 21st goal in 38 England caps.

The England management asked all players to submit two choices for the squad number they would prefer in an attempt to issue everyone with a number that they were happy with. While the Capello camp have been eager to downplay any assumptions about the likely XI to face the United States, the squad numbers – which are yet to be officially released by Fifa – do reflect Crouch's standing in the squad.

Ahead of England's 9pm flight from Heathrow last night, Capello's son and lawyer Pierfillippo had to make a last-minute dash up the M1 to Leicester to meet with Sir Dave Richards, the new chairman of Club England, at a hotel to sign his new revised Football Association contract.

Richards was in Leicester on Premier League business – he is the league's chairman – and it was the only chance that the two men could get together face-to-face to finalise the details of the new contract. The FA, which has put Richards in charge of Club England, hopes it will keep their coach out of the clutches of Internazionale for the foreseeable future.

The FA made an announcement last night to say that the Italian had agreed to the revised contract and that any issue over his future until the end of Euro 2012 was now resolved. The break clause that would have allowed him to leave after the World Cup for reduced compensation has been deleted.

Capello said: "I am very happy about this and would like to thank Sir David Richards and the FA for their continued support and assurances about my future. I always wanted to stay until the end of my contract. In South Africa we are totally focused on the World Cup."

England's players will see their Royal Bafokeng base in Phokeng outside the North-West Province city of Rustenburg for the first time today. It is where they will live and train for as long as they stay in the competition. Having made a late run for inclusion in his third World Cup squad, Joe Cole said that this squad offered lots of competition for places

"I look around the plane and every player has got an argument," he said. "We have great players who have had great seasons, but maybe because I'm tried and tested at this level that might help, you never know. I loved my time in 2006 but I want to finish my England career winning something and this is the best chance with the players we've got, and the manager. If everyone believes we can do it, we can do it.

"People still talk to me about the last World Cup and the goal against Sweden, but I want to go to South Africa and be part of a team that is going to do something better than that. We got to the quarter-finals last time and we want to go further. Everyone in the nation is excited and all the players in the squad are so excited, we just can't wait to get going."

The Manchester City winger Adam Johnson, who was among the seven left out of the squad, said that Capello had told him that he had a chance of breaking into the England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Johnson said: "Of course, I was a bit down when I got the news and my first thought was that I wish I'd had more of a chance to show what I could do in the two warm-up matches. I would have loved the chance to showcase what I can do on the biggest stage of all but I am not going to dwell on it.

"The management made it clear to me that I have an international future and I am going to get my head down and get ready to try and work my way into the side for September qualifiers."

England's goal getters

Peter Crouch has the third-highest goals-per-game ratio of any England player in the past 50 years:

1. Jimmy Greaves 57/44/0.77

2. Gary Lineker 80/48/0.60

3. Peter Crouch 38/21/0.55

4. Geoff Hurst 49/24/0.49

5. Alan Shearer 63/30/0.48

6. Mick Channon 44 /21/0.48

7. Bobby Charlton 106 /49/0.46

8. Michael Owen 89/40/0.45

9. David Platt 62/27/0.44

10. Wayne Rooney 60/25/0.42

(20 goals to qualify)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food