Milner favourite to start on left with Cole and Carrick on bench

James Milner appears to have won his battle to be fit for England's opening fixture against the United States this evening and is likely to feature on the left side of a four-man midfield here, with Steven Gerrard resuming his central partnership with Frank Lampard.

Milner's stomach bug, picked up from Matthew Upson, left him feeling wretched on Tuesday, prevented him training on either Wednesday or Thursday and, only 48 hours ago, had left him 60/40 against (in the battle with Joe Cole) for a position on England's left flank. But the 24-year-old spoke with Fabio Capello on Thursday night, when the Aston Villa player told the coach he was ready for the World Cup opener. "He's fit, no problem. I spoke with him last night and he said he was ok. He was ill for one day and [didn't train for two]," Capello said.

Capello finally quashed any remaining prospect of Gareth Barry being able to line up for England's opening game, though he, too, looked mobile in training and will be on the bench – an outcome broadly in line with England's expectations when Capello first gambled on including him in his 30-man squad. "Barry is training three days, every day, normally," Capello said. "[He is] training hard. He's fit. He will be on the bench, not sure in the first XI." Barry looks like a possible starter in the second group game against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday.

Milner showed no signs of any fatigue during the 20-minute training session here last night, looking sharp as he brought one fine save from Robert Green during what Capello later described as the best session he had seen from his players in South Africa.

Milner's readiness seems to mean there is no place in the starting XI for Michael Carrick, though the Manchester United player is understood to have been central to Capello's thinking this week. Rather than starting with Joe Cole in Milner's absence, the combination Capello was mulling over revolved around a central midfield partnership of Carrick and Lampard, releasing Gerrard from the role down the England left, with which he has become familiar under Capello. The Italian is notorious for changing his mind at the last minute, though, and a role for Carrick cannot be entirely discounted.

Capello had Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey partnered in a brief, half-pitch training match last night, and Heskey, rather than Peter Crouch, appears to remain Capello's preferred option to operate with Rooney. Ledley King and John Terry were central defensive partners for the training match, in which King played a full part.

Though Capello reiterated last night that he knows his starting XI, goalkeepers Joe Hart and Green must wait until 5pm GMT today – two hours before kick-off – before they learn whether the manager has opted for Green's greater experience or has been won over by Hart's sharpness in training in South Africa. Though Hart certainly showed more evidence of his growing confidence last night, Green's experience may well prevail.

Capello dismissed suggestions that Rooney's temperament might be suspect going into the tournament, though he admitted he had spoken to the Manchester United striker about falling foul of the controversial Brazilian referee Carlos Simon today. "Rooney played in qualification, all the games, and had no problems with the referee. I hope it will be the same Rooney in the World Cup. I spoke with him.

"His aggression... is really strong [and] we have to be careful. We have to respect the referees. But he's spontaneous, not uneducated. He's instinctive and when he goes out onto the pitch he goes out to win. He's someone who gets angry when he's treated to something unfair. But he'll be fine for the World Cup."

'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London