Ferdinand injury opens door for Upson and Cahill

West Ham man expected to start as 23-year-old joins England squad for qualifier
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The Independent Football

The West Ham United defender Matthew Upson looks likely to be given a start for England against Kazakhstan on Saturday after Rio Ferdinand withdrew from the England squad yesterday. The Manchester United defender's calf injury, which prevented him from playing in his club's four games previous to the Champions League final has not cleared up.

Gary Cahill is the surprise new name in the squad as Ferdinand's replacement. The Bolton Wanderers player has represented England at Under-21 level but has never before been called up to the senior team. He is one of the few central defenders left with Jonathan Woodgate having injured a pelvic bone at the end of Tottenham's season.

With Phil Jagielka also injured, Fabio Capello's options in the centre-back position look more limited than usual. Nevertheless, he has always liked Upson, playing him in his first game in charge against Switzerland in February last year. Should he start against Kazakhstan in the World Cup qualifier on Saturday, it would be Upson's fifth start for England under Capello.

Cahill, 23, won four Under-21s caps and has had a very solid season at Bolton this year, winning the Players' Player of the Year award. It is also curious that Capello has decided not to follow up his vow to pick the Tottenham captain Ledley King who, although fit, seems to have damaged his prospects with his drunken night out in the West End last month.

Cahill said: "I was at home and I got a phone call from the Football Association saying that they wanted me in the squad. I've had to get a few tools together – the boots and the shin pads – and now I am really looking forward to the opportunity.

"I've had a good season and I've worked really hard," he added. "I've been in the provisional squad twice before and then this third time I was included once again. I'm obviously delighted to get the call."

Capello will be relieved to get his squad on the plane to Almaty this morning with no further withdrawals. He has already lost Michael Carrick to a broken foot and David James, Ben Foster, Stewart Downing and Aaron Lennon. as well as long-term absentee Owen Hargreaves. are also all out the squad.

The England manager has made sure his squad keep to a rigorous routine since they met up on Sunday with double-training sessions on certain days, despite the heat, and limitations on what the players are permitted to eat. They play Andorra a week on Wednesday at Wembley.

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