Capello set to give youth a chance

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Joe Hart and Gabriel Agbonlahor are expected to head a group of youngsters that Fabio Capello will give England experience to in Germany next week.

The pair were the most notable absentees from Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad to face the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

As they are both currently fit, it seems certain their omission by Pearce is merely due to their involvement at senior level, where they should also be joined by Middlesbrough defender David Wheater.

Much to the consternation of Mark Hughes and Gareth Southgate, club bosses of Hart - who made his England debut as a substitute against Trinidad and Tobago in June - and Wheater at Manchester City and Middlesbrough, respectively, Capello put them on an overnight flight to Minsk last month to link up with a depleted squad for the World Cup qualifying win over Belarus.

Agbonlahor, a man Capello has been watching keenly for some time, should have been on the trip as well but was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury picked up in the European Under-21 Championship triumph over Wales at Villa Park.

As Capello said immediately after the Belarus encounter that he would use next week's friendly in Berlin's Olympic Stadium and the planned February trip to Spain to experiment, it seems a fair bet that all three will be in the squad he confirms on Saturday night.

Whether it includes David Beckham or Michael Owen is open to more debate.

Although Beckham collected his 107th cap as a substitute against Belarus, leaving him just one short of Bobby Moore's record for an outfield player, his MLS season with LA Galaxy ended early and Capello has previously stated he would not consider anyone not currently playing.

While Owen has played a part in Newcastle's last two games after missing three matches with a groin injury, he was not considered fit enough for the September double-header against Andorra and Croatia at a similar period in his recovery, so it is hard to see why Capello would change his mind now.

The Italian already knows he will be without Chelsea pair Ashley and Joe Cole through injury, while Emile Heskey, who has emerged as an unlikely pivotal figure in England's bid to reach South Africa 2010, is currently sidelined by a calf strain.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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Joe Cole
Joe Hart
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Manchester City
David Beckham
Emile Heskey
Mark Hughes
Michael Owen
Gareth Southgate
Stuart Pearce
David Wheater
Mark Hughes
Bobby Moore

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