It was a comfortable win in the end England beat Slovakia 4-0 last night in a friendly that was tainted by an injury fest as 3 strikers limped off with various problems leaving Rooney as the only fit striker.
Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole are unlikely for the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on Wednesday after a series of mishaps left Wayne Rooney as the only fully-fit striker in the squad.
Emile set things up with a goal after 7 minutes, turning in a goal from Stevie Gerrard’s cross but had to leave the field with an Achilles problem. Rooney headed in a Beckham cross after 20 minutes and Frank Lampard hit home on the 82nd minute. The win was sealed in the 90th when Rooney finished with a neat flighted close ranger from Lampard’s excellent low-swung cross from the left.
Capello is now looking at calling up Darren Bent to face the Ukraine on Wednesday after a major doubt over Heskey. Capello has ruled out calling up either Michael Owen or Kevin Davies, while Gabriel Agbonlahor pulled out of Friday’s Under-21 international against Norway with a hamstring injury.
England resume their world cup qualifying campaign on April 1st against Ukraine in brand new shirts. Apart from a wild guess that the new home shirt will be mostly white and the change shirt will be mostly red, thatâ€™s a topic for another day, so letâ€™s take a quick look at the situation in Group Six.
With a five point lead over both Croatia (who weâ€™ve already beaten) and Ukraine (in third at present having only played three games), thereâ€™s a strong possibility England could be the first European team to qualify for South Africa 2010 and despite the recent defeat in Spain I canâ€™t see any reason to disagree. Yet itâ€™s always worth remembering that there are no medals for being the first to qualify
Weâ€™ve got a good record against Ukraine (weâ€™ve won both previous games without conceding a goal but we havenâ€™t played them for almost five years), but having said that, theyâ€™re currently on a seven game unbeaten run, theyâ€™re pretty tight defensively and theyâ€™ve got plenty of decent players â€“ some of whom you may have heard of.
The England squad named for this weekendâ€™s friendly against Slovakia and the qualifier next week contained a couple of mild surprises, one of which seems to have backfired. The only new name in the squad is Leighton Banes of Everton, who I would imagine is seen as a potential squad player for next summer; although thereâ€™s no doubt that Ledley King is an international quality player he has a debilitating injury that means he canâ€™t train normally from game to game and itâ€™s not totally clear why Fabio Capello bought him into the squad. On Tuesday afternoon it was announced that King had left camp and was considering his international future, which would be a real shame.
England v Slovakia, Saturday March 28th 4pm GMT on Setanta Sports 1
England v Ukraine, Wednesday April 1st 8pm GMT on ITV1