Peaceful build-up to England game

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The Independent Football

England's friendly with local South African outfit Platinum Stars looked like passing off peacefully this afternoon.

Yesterday's stampede at Nigeria's friendly with North Korea in Johannesburg that led to 14 supporters requiring hospital treatment had raised fears about a similar disturbance as the Three Lions made their public appearance in Rustenburg this afternoon.

But the sedate nature of their entrance was at odds with those concerns.

Indeed, the main feature for England's players to spot by the side of the road as they made their way to the stadium were the countless goats grazing on the greenery that was growing out of the red South African soil.

Hundreds of schoolchildren delayed their walk home too, eager to catch a glimpse of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand as they were bussed into the 20,000-capacity Moruleng stadium.

In taking the wise precaution of only distributing 14,000 tickets, the Football Association were hoping to limit the potential for problems.

FA officials visited the stadium again last night to reassure themselves all practical considerations had been taken, adamant that "we take safety very seriously," according to a spokesman for the organisation.

The obligatory vuvuzelas were being trumpeted by early arrivals into the stadium when England did arrive an hour before kick-off.

The match itself doubled up as the final practice against an opposition side for England ahead of their Group C opener against the United States on Saturday and the opening training session or match all 32 competing nations are obliged by FIFA to put on before the tournament begins on Friday.

Joe Hart was named in the England line-up to face the Platinum Stars in a practice match ahead of Saturday's World Cup opener with the United States.

The Manchester City keeper was given his opportunity to impress by Fabio Capello ahead of Robert Green and David James.

It was a strong-looking line-up, with the majority of the players expected to face Bob Bradley's side in the first eleven.

Ledley King, as expected, partnered John Terry in central defence as England look to find a replacement for injured skipper Rio Ferdinand.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was preferred to Aaron Lennon on the right flank while the Peter Crouch-Jermain Defoe partnership was being tried out up front.

With there being no limit on the number of permitted substitutes, Capello was expected to give most of the other members of his 23-man squad a run-out at some juncture during the 90 minutes.