Football

Capello looking to plug Rooney gap

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England boss Fabio Capello will turn to Gabriel Agbonlahor and Peter Crouch against Belarus when he experiences his first World Cup qualifier without Wayne Rooney.

Rooney has played all nine of Capello's competitive matches but has a calf strain for the 10th and is joined on the sidelines by Steven Gerrard, whose groin complaint has given the Italian another reason to experiment with systems and fringe players in the dead rubber.

Capello is aware there needs to be an alternative way to success, and said: "The two forwards will be Crouch and Agbonlahor."

He added: "We need to play other styles, style A, B, C. It depends on the opposition and the style of the game we need to play. We played always more or less the same style in all the games we've played.

"Sometimes, during the friendly games, we've changed it. But we need to practise other styles. I want to see some players in different positions."

Some previous England teams have been accused of lacking plan A, let alone B or C, but Capello insisted: "When I decide the squad, I decide always different styles that I can play with it with the players who will be with me. Why wouldn't they have that capacity?"

Rob Green is suspended after his red card against Ukraine at the weekend, but David James' return has been complicated by a knee complaint. The Portsmouth goalkeeper will need a late fitness test.

Gerrard's absence could give James Milner an opportunity on the left wing, Agbonlahor and Crouch will lead the attack, while Rio Ferdinand will get the chance to atone for his mistake in Dnipropetrovsk that led to Green's dismissal.

Capello has talked to Ferdinand about his error and insists he has total confidence in the Manchester United centre-back.

"I spoke with Rio, on Monday and I will speak also with some other players," Capello said. "We will see the DVD of the game to understand what happened, and I will see the mistakes. I spoke with him about the moment, and different things. It was only about the last game. He's a good man, a big man, an important player for England and United."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Portsmouth
David James
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Football
James Milner
Premier League
Peter Crouch
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard
Rio Ferdinand
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