Defoe set to replace Heskey for England

Striker's fine form has convinced Capello to play him alongside Rooney for Slovenia match in a switch from usual starting line-up

Fabio Capello is preparing to start with Jermain Defoe alongside Wayne Rooney in England's strikeforce instead of Emile Heskey in Saturday's friendly against Slovenia in what would be a radical departure from his usual attacking formation.

The Tottenham striker, who scored twice against the Netherlands last month, has been playing alongside Wayne Rooney in training sessions with Capello this week. Capello has looked at a variety of different formations and while nothing is certain with the England manager – he does not announce his team until the day of the game – the understanding is that he is leaning towards a start for Defoe.

Under Capello, England have settled on an established way of playing with Heskey leading the line and Rooney playing behind him but Defoe's form for his club – for whom he has scored four goals already this season – has made him difficult to ignore.

Defoe, 26, has started five games for Capello and only one World Cup qualifier. Capello's preferred strike partnership is Rooney with Heskey or, if he is unavailable, Peter Crouch.

The combination of Rooney and Heskey has worked well, most notably in World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Kazakhstan. However, Heskey has been left out of the Aston Villa side for their last two league games. Combining Defoe and Rooney against Slovenia would give Capello the opportunity to see them play together ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Croatia at Wembley.

Capello is also prepared to rest John Terry for Saturday's game against Slovenia to make sure he is fit to play against Croatia four days later. The England captain has suffered groin problems this week, which should be resolved with rest. The problem is not thought to be long-term and if Terry is left out it will just a be a precautionary measure.

Gary Cahill, the Bolton defender, has been called up to the squad as cover for Terry and Wes Brown, who has a thigh problem. Cahill was also a late call-up for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra in June.

Defoe, who made his international debut in March 2004, has had more than a few disappointments with England. He said this week that he will never forget the day that Sven Goran Eriksson picked Theo Walcott ahead of him for the 2006 World Cup finals.

Walcott, then just 17, had never played in the Premier League and was never used by Eriksson in the tournament itself. By the time England played Ecuador in the first knockout round, Michael Owen had gone home with a ruptured cruciate ligament and Wayne Rooney had only just come back from a broken metatarsal. Crouch was the squad's only fully-fit striker other than Walcott.

"I'll never forget it. It seems like yesterday, it's so clear in my mind," Defoe said. "It was difficult because I travelled with the squad to Germany [as one of five standby players] and then I had to go home. It was really hard but I suppose it made me stronger. I want to make sure I play this time round.

"The frustrating thing was that I felt really fit. We'd done a lot of running and strengthening work. When I was speaking to the other lads they'd say, 'You look really fit.' At the back of your mind I was thinking 'This is for nothing really because you've got to go home'."

Defoe said that this season his preparation has made him stronger than ever. "It's been good. I've worked really hard in pre-season. I've done all my work in the gym, I've done the running and I felt sharp in the pre-season games." He also said that this time he believes that Fabio Capello has shown more faith in him.

"I didn't think that under the other manager [Steve McClaren] I got a fair chance," Defoe said. "With the manager now I've featured in a lot of the games and even when I haven't started I've played the whole second half. That's getting a fair opportunity. You've got a half to show what you can do instead of ten or fifteen minutes when you might not touch the ball."

Was there any bitterness towards Eriksson? "Hopefully he [Eriksson] is watching the games now," said Defoe.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam