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Witless England at risk of group exit after dour draw with Algeria

| 19.06.2010

England’s abysmal showing in their 0-0 draw with Algeria has seen them move out to 10/1 sixth-favourites to win the World Cup.

More immediate, though, is the real chance that Fabio Capello’s team could crash out of the tournament at the group stage after picking up just two points from two games. It’s now a 6/4 chance.

Capello went with the tried and tested set-up which had proved so successful during qualification, with Emile Heskey partnering Wayne Rooney and Gareth Barry patrolling the midfield.

Yet here England looked ill-at-ease all over the pitch and particularly disjointed in attack. Frank Lampard had England’s only proper chance but his left-footed strike was well saved by Rais M’Bohli, who was winning just his second cap.

England’s players looked fearful of producing a Robert Green-style blunder and repeatedly tried passing the ball when shooting on goal looked a better option.

Most alarming for bettors with money on England to do well at this World Cup will be Wayne Rooney’s continuing poor form. The striker, who bagged 34 goals for his club this season, looked far from his usual all-action self and there must be serious doubts over his fitness.

Rooney’s season ended in unspectacular fashion for Manchester United after he picked up an ankle knock in a Champions League match with Bayern Munich and he hasn’t scored in his eight games since. It looks extremely unlikely he will be top scorer here at 20/1.

As he was walking off the pitch following the final whistle Rooney reacted to jeers from England fans by saying: “Nice to see your own fans booing you, you football ‘supporters’.”

It seems vital that all the players are in the right frame of mind for England’s final group game with Slovenia, which has now become a must win.

Following their 2-2 draw with the USA Slovenia top Group C and on this evidence will be more than a match for Capello’s side.

Jamie Carragher will be suspended for the match after picking up another yellow card, meaning Capello only has three centre-backs to chose from.

Are England in danger of failing to qualify from their group? It’s a realistic 6/4 chance. Or can they turn it around against Slovenia and top the group? The are still favourites at 11/10.



John Klee