Bent and Huddlestone get England starts

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Darren Bent and Tom Huddlestone will get the chance to stake their claims for a place in England's final 23 for the World Cup after being handed starts in Sunday's friendly international against Japan.

Boss Fabio Capello needs to cut seven players from his preliminary squad of 30 ahead of the tournament in South Africa.

Sunderland striker Bent did not feature in the 3-1 win over Mexico on Monday because of a hamstring injury.

Capello opted to start with Peter Crouch, who scored his 21st England goal, and bring on Jermain Defoe in the second half.

Bent scored 24 times in the Barclays Premier League last term, more than Defoe, Crouch and Emile Heskey. He has yet to score a senior international goal, though.

Tottenham midfielder Huddlestone was introduced from the bench against Mexico.

And with doubts over the fitness of Manchester City's Gareth Barry, Huddlestone is a possible alternative in the holding midfield role.

"I have seen Huddlestone in a lot of games," said Capello. "This year he always played very well as a holding player and I am happy because he is here as he is one of the important English players."

Capello has also confirmed David James will start his first international since the qualifying victory over the Ukraine at Wembley on April 1, 2009, 10 games ago.

In addition, Aaron Lennon will also be handed a place in Capello's team to face Japan, possibly on the left wing, where he has spent most of this week in training.

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

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Tottenham Hotspur
Tom Huddlestone
David James
Aaron Lennon
Manchester City
Gareth Barry
Emile Heskey
Premier League
Peter Crouch
Jermain Defoe
Darren Bent

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