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Fabio Capello and England's chosen ones for South Africa

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23 Mar 2010 12:26:47

Fabio Capello and England's chosen ones for South Africa

Fabio Capello followed Wednesday's victory over Egypt by declaring he knows the 30 players he will name in his provisional World Cup squad on May 11. 'I have 30 players in my head,' promised the Italian. 'I have the 30 players.' But between then and June 1 he has to cut that down to the 23 he will take to South Africa. Joy for the chosen ones; heartbreak for the seven who, having been to Austria for England's pre-tournament training camp and possibly even played in the friendlies that remain against Mexico and Japan, will be left behind. Below are the likely winners and losers. Those, based on the evidence so far, who look like a safe bet for a place on the flight to Johannesburg and those in danger of being turned away at passport control... Striking issue: Capello knows he must get the best out of Rooney Goalkeepers David James, Robert Green, Joe Hart With Ben Foster unable to get a game for Manchester United and Paul Robinson and Chris Kirkland not really on Capello's radar, the goalkeepers pick themselves right now. Keeper rethink: James may no longer be No 1 The only question is who goes to South Africa as No 1. A year ago it was difficult to see beyond James. He started the first 13 games of Capello's tenure. But concerns over his age, and his ability to recover from injury, left Capello hoping that Foster might start to get more games at Old Trafford. Even now, Capello remains an admirer. But he has to go with the goalkeepers who play regularly for their clubs and sources close to the England camp say it has become a two-horse race involving James and Green between now and the end of the season. Capello would only confirm that, having previously declared that he knew his keeper for South Africa, he was now less certain. 'I know the value of James,' he said. 'Green needs to play more games - if you remember the last game he played, in Ukraine, he only played for 10 minutes or so (before being sent off). He has to play more games for this reason. 'Green is a good goalkeeper, but it is too early to say who is my No 1.' Reminded of the fact he said 11 months ago that he had already identified his goalkeeper, and asked if he had now changed his mind, he said: 'Mmm, perhaps!' Full backs Glen Johnson, Wes Brown, Ashley Cole, Wayne Bridge These, at least, are the four full backs England's manager hopes to have with him in Rustenberg. But he is concerned, not least because of the seriousness of the injuries that have sidelined Cole and Johnson and Bridge's clear reluctance to share the same hotel as John Terry. Brown gets the nod for two reasons. His performance in Zagreb in September 2008 and his versatility. Picking Brown means he does not necessarily need to take four centre halves, so enabling him to pick more forwards. If Bridge continues to reject Capello's advances, Leighton Baines did enough against Egypt to keep his nose ahead of Stephen Warnock. Done enough: Baines (right) will go to the World Cup - if Bridge is unavailable 'I am happy with the performance of Baines,' said Capello. 'I know Warnock, he played before. So it was really important for Baines to play his first game in the national team against a really good team like Egypt. I put him in the first XI but he showed the confidence and the personality I wanted to see.' We know Wayne's on the plane but who will miss out? In and around the England squad this season, but now they're heading for Heartbreak Hotel... Ben Foster Leighton Baines Stephen Warnock Gary Cahill Jermaine Jenas Tom Huddlestone Ashley Young Darren Bent Carlton Cole Gabriel Agbonlahor Centre backs Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Matthew Upson Again, there are major concerns over fitness and form. But if Rio Ferdinand, Terry and Matthew Upson are fit, Capello may be satisfied with that trio when he already has Brown booked into the team hotel. That would obviously be bad news for Joleon Lescott, as well as players like Gary Cahill and Ryan Shawcross. Ledley King could yet come into consideration if Ferdinand or Terry is not fit to travel. WingersTheo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Aaron Lennon, David Beckham, James Milner, Joe Cole This is where Capello will try to be clever and provide England with a variety of options. He will pick three from the four right wingers he hopes to have available and one of those places already belongs to David Beckham. Which means either Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Aaron Lennon - currently sidelined by injury - is going to be left bitterly disappointed. Judging by what he said at Wembley on Wednesday night, Capello is extremely keen to see Walcott at the World Cup. Walcott's season might have been severely disrupted by injury but the Italian is backing the Arsenal flier to rediscover the form that destroyed Croatia. 'Theo has time before we decide the squad and by the time I decide, I hope he is fit,' said Capello. 'Theo is one of the faster players we have and I remember the performance of Theo when he was fit, before he was injured. He has time to recover that form.' Note the use of Walcott's Christian name. Not something that Capello often does. Mr versatile: James Milner (right) can play at either full-back or in midfield He said Wright-Phillips 'can play on the left' but behind Steven Gerrard - who occupies that berth despite being better suited to a central role - we will probably see James Milner and Joe Cole. Capello wants to see Cole return to his best form and he likes Milner for his versatility. 'He can play at full back, too,' he said. It does, however, mean that players like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing could be left disappointed. Central midfielders Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick Pretty straightforward in the absence of the injured Owen Hargreaves. It's Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick. Capello has looked at Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone but their only hope is an injury to the first four. The likely 23-man squad... D James (Portsmouth), R Green (West Ham), J Hart (Man City, on loan at Birmingham); G Johnson (Liverpool),J Terry (Chelsea), R Ferdinand (Man Utd), M Upson (West Ham), W Brown (Man Utd), A Cole (Chelsea), W Bridge (Man City); T Walcott (Arsenal), S Wright-Phillips (Man City), D Beckham (LA Galaxy, on loan at AC Milan), S Gerrard (Liverpool), F Lampard (Chelsea), G Barry (Man City), M Carrick (Man Utd), J Cole (Chelsea), J Milner (Aston Villa); W Rooney (Man Utd), E Heskey (Aston Villa), J Defoe, P Crouch (both Tottenham). StrikersWayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe The situation can obviously change between now and June 1, but four strikers already have one foot on the plane. Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. Capello was impressed by Michael Owen's performance in last Sunday's Carling Cup final, prior to limping off with a hamstring injury, and Carlton Cole is still pressing hard for inclusion. Gabriel Agbonlahor is much more of an outside bet. Crouch, as Capello admitted, is proving impossible to ignore. 'Peter Crouch has improved a lot,' said Capello. 'Also, the style of the English teams like Tottenham has changed. They do not only play long ball. When we started, it was always long balls up to Crouch. But now they play football, try to pass the ball always, to play with a maximum of one or two touches. That is an improvement and I can see it is now not easy to win the ball back off Crouch. Defoe: Likely to travel to South Africa ahead of Owen and Agbonlahor 'I learned a lot of things about different solutions tonight. Rooney and Defoe can play together but some things didn't go the way I wanted them to go. With Crouch we played differently and the movement of the players was much more harmonic. 'Against a team like Egypt, whose defenders are not so tall, you want to play with two quick players. Sometimes you can play Crouch, sometimes Defoe, sometimes Heskey. I have a lot of different solutions.'  Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips' success proves Fabio Capello is England's sub masterJAMIE REDKNAPP: He's a funny shape, does a robot dance and has a nice line in laughing at himself but the stats prove Peter Crouch is... an England giantWORLD CUP 2010: Health check - How Spain, Brazil, Germany and all the big boys are shaping up ahead of South AfricaTheo Walcott hasn't got a football brain, says former England winger Chris Waddle


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