Ferdinand hopeful of winning fitness battle for crucial Croatia match

Rio Ferdinand is hoping to train with the rest of the England squad today for the first time in almost a week. The 29-year-old defender told Fabio Capello his back and neck feels better after physiotherapy and rehabilitation work in the swimming pool and gym at the team hotel in Barcelona yesterday.

If Ferdinand does not train today – and a final decision will be taken after he is assessed this morning – it is unlikely that he will feature in Wednesday's crucial World Cup qualification fixture away to Croatia. Ferdinand missed Saturday's 2-0 victory away to Andorra which opened England's Group Six campaign, with Joleon Lescott deputising, although it's not certain that in Ferdinand's absence the Everton defender will retain his place against the Croats. Matthew Upson is also in contention.

Capello, who will not want to go into the tie without Ferdinand, is mulling a number of changes for the game and spent last night reviewing a DVD of Croatia's 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan in Zagreb on Saturday before assessing his options. Wes Brown will be in contention to start ahead of Glen Johnson at right-back, for example, while Emile Heskey has probably played himself into the team, with Jermain Defoe likely to miss out.

But those choices along with other decisions – whether to start with Theo Walcott and/or Joe Cole – will not be finalised until Wednesday lunchtime. Capello will monitor his squad until then, although there are no injury concerns from those who featured against the Andorrans.

Capello is acutely aware that Wayne Rooney is not in the best of form but the Manchester United striker is still regarded as first choice for the team, which may be re-shaped against Croatia. It is unlikely, for example, that England will play with two wingers, especially after Stewart Downing's poor showing. Capello had to preach patience to his team at half-time on Saturday and later admitted to being relieved that the tie was over. "It was three points and we move on," said one source when asked to assess the performance. It was pointed out that, also on Saturday, Italy did not score their winning goal in a 2-1 victory away to Cyprus until the 92nd minute.

There was, however, a side swipe from the Andorran coach, David Rodrigo, who mocked Capello by saying: "Mr Capello says he does not understand Andorra's defensive tactics. Well he can try coaching Andorra and I will try coaching England – I am sure we will beat Andorra by more than 2-0."

That may be so but David James voiced the difficulties of playing against a team such as Andorra. "We saw them on video on Friday and they were stuck in one corner of the screen," the goalkeeper – who touched the ball just eight times during the match – said. "They had nine or 10 men behind the ball and they replicated it against us."

But this double-header was always about Croatia and yesterday John Terry admitted there was unfinished business after losing twice to Slaven Bilic's side in the campaign to reach Euro 2008. "I don't want to get across any kind of revenge message but, at the same time, it's a new campaign and we are going there to pick up three points," the England captain said. "We know it's going to be tough again but hopefully they will come at us a bit more than Andorra did. So it will be a different ball game."

It certainly will be that, with Frank Lampard adding of the Croats: "They have got very good players so that presents different problems. It will be a bit more open. They've got a lot more threats in their team, but it might be a bit more enjoyable. Technically they are very good. Everyone was up in arms that they beat us twice but they ended up being the dark horses of the Euros. They aren't to be taken lightly." He can rest assured that no England supporter will be doing that and while Capello has stated he wants three more points, it may be that a single one will be deemed a success.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own