Tuesday 20 March 2018

Heskey to miss out as England set to start with Milner and Defoe

Jason Burt

Fabio Capello will make a final decision on this morning on whether to include James Milner or Joe Cole in his starting XI for the must-win final Group C tie against Slovenia.

The England manager is, however, almost certain to recall Milner to replace Aaron Lennon on the right of a four-man midfield, with Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard in the centre and Steven Gerrard on the left, despite calls for the captain to be pushed further forward.

Instead, as expected, Jermain Defoe is likely to partner Wayne Rooney, with Emile Heskey dropping to the bench in a 4-4-2 formation.

Capello dropped a heavy hint last night that he would not abandon his preferred team shape by saying he wanted England to remain "compact."

There has been a lobby for Cole's inclusion and although he looks set to miss out, Capello has not, definitely, made up his mind as he tries to steer England into the last 16.

He considered starting with Shaun Wright-Phillips, but has turned to Milner, who played for the first-half hour against the United States, in England's opening match, on the left, before succumbing to illness.

The other change is enforced, and has already been confirmed by Capello, with Matthew Upson -- rather than Michael Dawson -- replacing the suspended Jamie Carragher in central defence.

Ledley King, again, did not train on Tuesday and remains out of contention for the foreseeable future.

England trained at their base at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus because the poor state of the Port Elizabeth pitch prevented them from training there, before flying from Johannesburg.

Defoe is expected to be selected because he is regarded as one of the few players who is not suffering from the "fear factor" Capello believes has gripped the team and affected performances.

The formation could transform into a 4-2-3-1 line-up with Defoe as the lone striker and Rooney shifting into the middle of the three with Gerrard and Milner either side of him.

As expected, David James has retained his place in goal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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