England refuse to take Gerrard risk

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The Independent Football

Steven Gerrard may miss England's final significant World Cup warm-up match against Japan tomorrow, as manager Fabio Capello provides him with maximum recovery time from a calf twinge which put paid to his training on Thursday.

Gerrard trained yesterday – first with the full England group, before breaking off to work with physiotherapist Gary Lewin. The Liverpool captain will train again today. All the England players took part in some form of training yesterday, including Ledley King who undertook work separate from the main group.

England's preparations in Austria continue to be affected by injury, with Stephen Warnock another casualty. He twisted his ankle on Thursday, was limited to light training yesterday and though he is likely to undertake full training today, he would appear to be in some doubt to face Japan – a match in which he badly needs playing time to demonstrate that he is a more worthy recipient of the deputy left-back position than Leighton Baines, whose performance against Mexico on Monday was unconvincing.

Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker are likely to get an opportunity to prove to Capello that they justify a place in his 23-man squad for South Africa, with the England manager weighing up a bold plan to start with both of them against Japan.

The two midfielders had seemed some way down Capello's pecking order, and Parker still has the most work to do to earn his World Cup place. But experimentation from the England manager is expected in Austria, with Michael Carrick's poor display against Mexico and Gareth Barry's struggle to be fit to face the United States on 12 June both playing in their favour.

Carrick – whose only competitive appearance for Capello came in the Italian's sole qualifying defeat to the Ukraine last October – is the experienced choice, though his club form has deteriorated since the turn of the year.

Huddlestone, who has impressed with his range of passing and maturity as Tottenham claimed a Champions League berth, can eclipse him with a good display tomorrow. The 23-year-old made his England debut in the friendly defeat against Brazil in Qatar in November but has pushed his claims over the winter, increasingly coming to Capello's attention.

Parker is the outsider of the race, though the positive signs Capello has given of Barry's recuperation in the last 48 hours suggests that he might drop out.