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Fabio's search for Plan B: Rooney injury hands Capello back-up crew the chance to shine

13 Oct 2009 01:00:08

Fabio's search for Plan B: Rooney injury hands Capello back-up crew the chance to shine

No wonder Wayne Rooney confidently, and rather cockily, declared that the 'big man' was back when he returned to England's hotel in Baden-Baden with the medical clearance to finally take part in the last World Cup. According to Frank Lampard, he has a big personality to match that big-game temperament. The kind of energy and presence Lampard has seen in only one other player. 'He's the way Gazza was around the dressing room,' said the Chelsea midfielder. Wazza is the new Gazza: Frank Lampard has hailed Rooney's dressing room importance, comparing his influence to that of former England star Gascoigne (R) That energy, said Lampard, is infectious. Something that calms nerves and lifts spirits. Something that, listening to Lampard at the team hotel in Hertfordshire on Monday, almost seems as important to England as the contribution he makes on the pitch. England's best player offers the complete package.  Owen is back for England but he's only invited to Fabio's Wembley partyBarry back for Belarus after Carrick fails his England audition in UkraineHeskey in quit threat: Aston Villa striker desperate to protect World Cup spotRooney KO: England boss Capello loses his 'incredible' Man United starLampard urges England's fringe men to take advantage of Rooney's absence  As inspirational off the field as on it and someone who will be missed on Wednesday night against Belarus. 'No one can do what Wayne does on the pitch,' said Lampard. 'But no one's quite like him in the dressing room, either. 'From when he first came into the team, at 17 or 18, he's been the one who gets in there an hour before the game, gets his kit straight on and starts kicking and flicking the balls around, walking around and chatting to everyone like the game, whatever the game, is no big deal. 'It's something that rubs off on everyone. He's a one-off like that. If someone else did it you would probably criticise them for not stretching properly. With Wayne, though, that's who he is. He has such an effervescent character, such enthusiasm. Only certain players can give you that. Some have it and keep it to themselves. He gives it out to people around him, which is a big thing. Come in No 9: Crouch could replace absent Rooney 'I never played with Gazza but he's the only one I've seen like that in the England dressing room. He had that kind of bounciness, if you like, around the hotel and the dressing room. He got people going around him. Some people are nervous and someone like that going round and chatting or making a joke can relax the players. And like Gazza, Wayne can then back it up with the way he trains and plays.' As Lampard acknowledges, Rooney will be 'big miss'. Even if the absence of a key player, in his opinion, can sometimes draw more from those who remain standing. But it is a concern for Fabio Capello. Perhaps not so much this week when England have already qualified for the World Cup, but a situation he would not want to see in South Africa next summer. The reasons are simple for a manager who believes in first putting the best players on the pitch and then organising them in a formation that works. Capello would wince only at losing one of the best players in the world. Not someone who forces him into a major tactical rethink. 'Wayne's likeGazza, he is soenthusiastic' - Frank Lampard  He has been relatively lucky with Rooney so far. The Manchester United striker has missed just three of 19 games - all friendlies. But he has gone with two strikers on all three occasions, partnering Jermain Defoe and Dean Ashton in the defeat of Trinidad & Tobago and Defoe and Gabriel Agbonlahor in that stunning 2-1 victory in Germany before coming unstuck in Spain when he went for Agbonlahor and Heskey. That had more to do with the difficulties encountered in competing with a sensational Spanish midfield. Since the start of the last World Cup, England have done okay in Rooney's absence. Eleven wins and four defeats in 16 games. With Peter Crouch and Michael Owen they won their opening two matches in the tournament in Germany, albeit against Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago. And they also crushed Russia 3-0, with Owen and Heskey up front. Big loss: Lampard believes England will miss Wayne Rooney against Belarus But England suffered in Rooney's absence when they met Croatia at Wembley two years ago, when the umbrella-wielding Steve McClaren chose to start with Crouch as a lone striker before he sent on Defoe and Darren Bent. England lost, missed out on the European Championship and then said their farewells to the manager. His replacement has limited options this week, given the injuries to Defoe and Owen. Sources suggested Capello would like to take a look at 6ft 7in Crouch against Belarus. It was a plan he had in mind prior to defeat in Ukraine. And the absence of Defoe gives him an opportunity to revisit Agbonlahor as an alternative. Injury doubt: Gerrard is a concern for Fabio Capello Injury concerns over Steven Gerrard may lead to a shake-up in midfield. With two strikers he might go for a more orthodox quartet, with two wingers - Aaron Lennon and James Milner - either side of Lampard and Gareth Barry. Michael Carrick might have to wait before he returns to the side. If everyone was fit and only Rooney was absent, Capello would look at other options. Defoe and Gerrard is a partnership he would consider, or Defoe and either Heskey, Carlton Cole or Crouch. Form would determine who gets the nod. Lampard tried to remain upbeat about life without Rooney. 'I watched the Germany game and people came in that night and gave good performances,' he said. 'The manager had done a fantastic job in terms of the confidence of the players, the work ethic, the way we pass the ball, communicate.' But he did not sound convincing. Not when he had already admitted that, on and off the field, England have nobody quite like Rooney.  Owen is back for England but he's only invited to Fabio's Wembley partyBarry back for Belarus after Carrick fails his England audition in UkraineHeskey in quit threat: Aston Villa striker desperate to protect World Cup spotRooney KO: England boss Capello loses his 'incredible' Man United starLampard urges England's fringe men to take advantage of Rooney's absence  Explore more:People:Michael Owen, MICHAEL CARRICK, Steve McClaren, Dean Ashton, Peter Crouch, Wayne Rooney, Fabio Capello, James Milner, Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, Aaron Lennon, Gareth Barry, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Frank LampardPlaces:Spain, Paraguay, South Africa, Russia, Germany, Croatia, United Kingdom


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