Fabio Capello will give Aaron Lennon and Ben Foster their chance to impress tomorrow against Slovakia, with Lennon a major contender to start the match having trained all week ahead of David Beckham in the right midfield position.
It is understood that Capello will definitely involve Lennon and Foster at some point at Wembley tomorrow but it is Lennon who has the best chance of starting the game. He has figured on the right side of midfield in the first XI team formations, with Steven Gerrard on the left. While Capello will keep his players guessing until tomorrow morning, it seems he is minded to play Lennon on the right instead of Beckham.
Capello intends to use tomorrow's game as a testing ground for some of his less experienced players before picking his first-choice XI for the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on Wednesday. He is mindful that with David James turning 39 before next year's World Cup finals in South Africa he will have to give Foster some kind of international experience, and this friendly represents a good opportunity.
A Lennon-Gerrard combination on the flanks will mean a very different-looking England side. Gerrard played in the same position against Belarus in October but the left-hand side was used as a starting point for him and he was given license to roam all over the pitch. Defensively he was expected to operate on the left. Lennon is a winger with pace who runs at full-backs and gives England the same directness as the injured Theo Walcott.
While a start for Lennon is by no means guaranteed – Capello works in mysterious ways – he has concentrated on playing the Tottenham man in that role in training all week. Should Lennon start the game, it will mean that Beckham will have to wait a little longer for his all-important 109th cap, which will break Bobby Moore's 108-cap England record for an outfield player.
Emile Heskey is expected to partner Wayne Rooney in attack for England tomorrow and yesterday Beckham defended the Manchester United man's occasional loss of temper. Rooney's lack of calm against Fulham on Saturday was seized upon by Capello in training on Tuesday who – half-joking – described him as a "crazy, crazy man" for punching a corner flag at Craven Cottage.
Beckham, who has a record 17 yellow cards and two red for England, said: "I've got no concerns [about Rooney's temper]. It comes hand in hand, you don't get the player he is without the temperament, without his attitude – you see how he played against Inter when he didn't stop running the whole game. That is the way he is, he's passionate about the game, passionate about winning and when things are not going his way he's like every other player who wants to win.
"He shows his frustration, sometimes it's too much, and it's been too much for me in the past. But if you take that away from a player it changes him. Of course it is very hard, there are a lot of people looking up to you. I've reacted on the pitch and it wasn't a great reaction – it might be wrong but it is me showing I'm frustrated that we're losing.
"Taking that away from a player is dangerous and I don't think anyone will try to take that away from Wayne. I don't think it is an issue. I don't need to speak to him but if he wanted to talk to me I would. He has done in the past and said we have the right manner on and off the field."
Peter Crouch missed another day's training yesterday but should be back in the squad for full training today following a calf problem. Shaun Wright-Phillips is still an injury worry with an ankle complaint.Reuse content