Team Selection

Who should start for England in the Czech Republic friendly?

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England Press Conference

England friendlies are nearly always dreadful, but that doesn’t stop the preemptive wave of excitement – even when they are inconveniently scheduled during the opening week of the season.

Capello’s squad selection for his final friendly before World Cup Qualifying was hardly inspiring: the Italian leant towards the same players again, with Ashley Young inexplicably absent and hints about Darren Bent’s inclusion coming to nothing. But of the players named in the squad, who deserves to start?

Here’s what we think:

Joe Hart
We know what David James can do so there’s no need for him to play and of Joe Hart and Paul Robinson, the former is more worthy of being given the chance. The Manchester City player made a quiet debut in the second half against Trinidad and Tobago in June, but a better judgement could be made if he plays a full match against stronger opposition.

Matthew Upson
The Spoiler would prefer to see Upson or Woodgate start in central defence alongside the new England captain to test some new partnerships but Capello is almost certain to go with Ferdinand and Terry together. So as we’ve all seen plenty of Cashley, why not try Upson on the left over Chelsea reserve Wayne Bridge to give England another option?

Rio Ferdinand
Hopefully the Man United defender will be leading out everyone else in this team on Wednesday having been confirmed as the new captain.

John Terry
As mentioned earlier, we don’t see the point in pairing Ferdinand and Terry yet again, and would rather see Woodgate or Upson start in place of whoever misses out on the captaincy. It won’t happen though so it’s not worth thinking about.

Glen Johnson
The Portsmouth right-back had his first start under Capello against Trinidad and Tobago but Wes Brown has largely been favoured. With no Gary Neville or Micah Richards, it makes sense to give Johnson one last chance to shine before qualifying.

Stewart Downing
Joe Cole scored for Chelsea at the weekend but Downing’s performance for Middlesbrough in the victory against Spurs received rave reviews, with The Times labelling him ‘Player of the weekend’. Downing was fantastic against Trinidad and Tobago and deserves another chance to prove himself.

Gareth Barry
Having the midfielder start his third game in a week is hardly ideal but considering we’ve seen plenty of Gerrard-Lampard and Gerrard-Barry, it makes sense to try out the third combination of those three midfielders.

Frank Lampard
Since Barry’s England recall 18 months ago, he has started just one game alongside Lampard – the 3-2 defeat to Croatia where Steve McClaren played a 4-3-3/4-5-1. Lampard and Barry deserve a runout together in a 4-4-2 before deciding for certain of England’s best midfield duo.

Theo Walcott
Arsenal’s new number 14 didn’t have a great game on Saturday but if he was handed his first England start on Wednesday it might persuaded the fans who grew tired of international friendlies a long time ago to tune in out of intrigue.

Emile Heskey
When Dean Ashton was rendered unavailable, Capello could have put Darren Bent or Gabriel Agbonlahor in the squad in his place but the fact he chose Heskey suggests he wants to partner Rooney with a target man, so don’t be surprised if the Wigan striker starts.

Wayne Rooney
Rooney and Heskey scored two of the nine league goals that Petr Cech conceded at Stamford Bridge last season and will probably be combining to look for a way past the Czech Republic keeper again on Wednesday.

Predicted actual line-up: James, Cole, Ferdinand (c), Terry, Brown, Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Heskey, Rooney

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