Fabio Capello knows England’s opening match starting XI
Fabio Capello yesterday told the world he knows who his starting XI for England’s opening World Cup match against the USA will be.
The news is a relief to those backing England, after injuries and an apparent elusiveness on the manager’s part had marked preparations.
There are of course a few nailed on certs to take the field against Bob Bradley’s men tomorrow, namely Wayne Rooney, captain Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry.
Ledley King and Glenn Johnson are another two virtually guaranteed to start, giving England a well-acquainted back four; indeed King, Terry and Cole all played in the same east London league when they were growing up. An England shut-out is 4/5.
For the rest of the team, it seems probable that maturity will win out over youth. While it was expected Aaron Lennon would begin on the right, there now seems a chance that Shaun Wright-Phillips will continue his surprise surge and be preferred against the USA for his more consistent trickery.
The bookies can’t separate them with each a 14/1 chance to score first.
On the other wing, Joe Cole’s impact in the Japan game, great end-of-season with double-winners Chelsea, and his World Cup pedigree should see him picked ahead of James Milner. Cole is a decent 10/1 to open the scoring, a feat he managed against Sweden in England’s final group game in 2006.
Up front it’s difficult to see Emile Heskey being selected ahead of Peter Crouch, such is the latter’s magnetism for international goals.
Despite the success of the Heskey/Rooney double act in qualification, Crouch partnered Rooney against Mexico and is 20/1 to explode onto the world stage with a hat-trick, a tally he’s reached once before for his country.
The really difficult position to predict is that of goalkeeper, with a battle royal having ensued recently between Robert Green, David James and Joe Hart.
The Italian’s preference for experience was demonstrated in his original 23-man selection and it has been reported he went on Italian radio this morning and defended David James – a possible indicator? USA are 1/8 to score under 1.5 goals.
Who will England play against the USA and how will they fare? See the full England v USA betting market.