Welbeck and Zamora set to form new-look strike force for England
Published 15/11/2011 | 05:00
There might be a shudder of apprehension when, as appears likely should Danny Welbeck be passed fit, England line up in a 4-4-2 formation against Sweden at Wembley Stadium this evening, but there are no grounds to be fearful.
True, England are facing a nation they have not beaten in 12 encounters -- stretching back to 1968, when Alf Ramsey's side were world champions -- but having crossed the Rubicon there appears no way back for Fabio Capello.
The Italian has finally followed his instincts in giving youth its chance, overhauling his squad and varying formations, using 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 of late. It is what he wanted to do when he arrived as England manager but then, having cast around, felt he could not because some players were unable to adapt.
It may be back to 4-4-2, with Welbeck partnering Bobby Zamora in attack, both embarking on their first international starts. It is one which Capello regards as an ideal combination.
There will be more changes tonight -- eight, Capello declared, from the team who beat the world champions Spain, although it appears more likely to be nine, with just Joe Hart and Theo Walcott retained as the manager seeks to give all 24 members of his squad (bar third-choice goalkeeper David Stockdale) valuable game time.
The other odd men out, in not having started either game, will be Daniel Sturridge, who was spoken about yesterday by John Terry as now being "the first name on the Chelsea team sheet", and Adam Johnson. However, both will come on as substitutes, with six replacements planned in front of an expected crowd of about 50,000.
Capello confirmed that Hart, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Leighton Baines and Kyle Walker will all start along with Zamora, Jack Rodwell and Walcott, leaving just three places to be named. One is being set aside for Welbeck, although he has to shake off a minor muscle strain in his leg. Capello said: "He has a little pain, little problems. So I won't risk him."
If all goes to plan England will therefore field a team with just 204 caps between them -- and 121 of those can be claimed by Terry and Gareth Barry -- and with a healthy average age of 25. Indeed of those players, four will be making their first starts.
It prompted Terry, restored as captain, to comment yesterday that it all seemed so unlikely after last year's World Cup disappointment.
"I couldn't envisage where the younger players were. Maybe, after that the younger players thought, 'you know what, we have got a chance'." (© Daily Telegragh, London)
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