Rooney out, Bent in for England

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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello has run into the most serious crop of injuries in his time as England’s manager ahead of the friendly against Germany in Berlin on Wednesday, with Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand among half a dozen players absent and the captain John Terry doubtful, writes Steve Tongue. Emile Heskey, Joe Cole, David Beckham, Ashley Cole and Wes Brown will all be missing. If Terry fails to recover from a foot injury sustained playing for Chelsea yesterday, Capello will be without the whole of his first-choice back four and his favoured attacking pairing of Rooney and Heskey.

Tottenham’s Darren Bent, Manchester City’s Micah Richards and Aston Villa’s Curtis Davies have been recalled and three players – Gabriel Agbonlahor, Michael Mancienne and Joe Hart – are promoted from Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 squad, as well as recent graduate Ashley Young. Michael Carrick comes back into consideration in place of Jermaine Jenas, but five of the 23 players still have to come through matches this afternoon.

Rooney and Ferdinand were both absent from Manchester United’s |5-0 romp against Stoke, after which Sir Alex Ferguson announced that neither will travel.

Even before Rooney’s withdrawal, Capello had confirmed there would be a place for Bent for the first time since he took over in January. The striker last appeared in Steve McClaren’s final match a year ago, coming on as a substitute for the final 11 minutes at home to Croatia. Capello said of Bent: “He’s fast and has good movement without the ball, and his confidence has improved a lot.”

With Agbonlahor also called up, Newcastle’s Michael Owen is squeezed out again. Beckham, hoping to equal Bobby Moore’s outfield record of 108 caps, is omitted because his MLS season has finished and he has not begun playing for Milan in the loan period designed to keep him match-fit.

The least predictable name in the squad is Mancienne, the 20-year-old ball-playing centre-half on loan to Wolves from Chelsea, for whom he has never played.

The most likely starting partnership in attack must be the Portsmouth pair Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, who Capello watched yesterday in the goalless draw at West Ham.