England face striker selection headache for Algeria clash
Gareth Barry will start against Algeria, though questions remain about the identities of England’s goalkeeper and Wayne Rooney’s partner in attack.
Barry’s inclusion was expected to represent a switch back to a 4-4-1-1 formation with Steven Gerrard roaming between midfield and Rooney in a lone striker role.
Capello has dropped a heavy hint, however, that he will persevere with a 4-4-2 strategy, with one of Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch or Jermain Defoe joining Rooney in attack.
Heskey won praise for his link-up play during the 1-1 draw with the USA but was again criticised for his profligate finishing. The Aston Villa forward only has seven goals in 58 caps but there is little to suggest that Capello is losing patience with him.
Crouch, contrastingly, has found the net seven times in his last seven international appearances, and he also has a vastly superior overall record of 21 goals from 39 caps.
His excellent scoring record against weaker sides could earn him a starting berth against Algeria. With this in mind, Crouch is a tempting 9/2 to open the scoring.
Defoe is the outsider of the three, as his playing style is not considered to be compatible with Rooney’s. The Tottenham striker’s pace and habit of shooting on sight, however, could tempt Capello to hand him a starting role, and he is 7/1 to score first.
Whether Capello plays four or five men in midfield, Barry’s presence should give captain Gerrard and Frank Lampard licence to break forward.
In goal, meanwhile, Capello has yet to decide if he will keep faith with Robert Green or replace him with David James or Joe Hart. Capello will again inform his players of the starting XI two hours before kick-off.