ENGLAND coach Fabio Capello last night admitted he has encountered “some problems” in settling on a provisional squad to carry the hopes of a nation at this summer’s World Cup.
Capello will today confirm the 30 players he will take to Austria for two training camps this month, before then whittling his squad down to a final 23 to take to South Africa.
But as has become commonplace ahead of major tournaments, injuries have proved the biggest hindrance to England’s preparations with midfielder Gareth Barry the latest concern.
The Manchester City captain has emerged as a key component in Capello’s starting line-up but his ankle ligament injury suffered against Tottenham last week has given the Italian a fresh headache.
That, coupled with the loss of experienced David Beckham and fitness concerns over captain Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Joleon Lescott and even Wayne Rooney, has ensured things has not exactly gone to plan.
“We have some problems,” Capello admitted ahead of today’s announcement. “We have three or four hours to decide.” Capello did, however, give the strongest hint yet that he may include in-form Ledley King, despite his long-running knee problems.
“I am happy because he played four games in 15 days,” he said of the centre back. “I followed him and watched the games. His performances have been good.”
King is in the running for a recall along with Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher, who has reportedly been in talks with Capello’s right-hand man Franco Baldini over ending his international retirement.
But perhaps the biggest debate surrounds Capello’s striker options. The 24-goal Darren Bent has to be in the reckoning, but is clearly vying with Bobby Zamora and Carlton Cole for two remaining spots.
WORLD CUP 2010 | CAPELLO’S LIKELY PROVISIONAL SQUAD
Goalkeepers J Hart (Man City), R Green (West Ham), D James (Portsmouth)
Defenders R Ferdinand, W Brown (Man Utd), J Terry, A Cole (Chelsea), L King, M Dawson (Tottenham), J Carragher, G Johnson (Liverpool), L Baines (Everton), M Upson (West Ham).
Midfielders S Gerrard (Liverpool), J Milner, S Downing (Aston Villa), F Lampard, J Cole (Chelsea), M Carrick (Man Utd), A Lennon, T Huddlestone (Tottenham), A Johnson, S Wright-Phillips (Man City), T Walcott (Arsenal).
Forwards W Rooney (Man Utd), P Crouch, J Defoe (Tottenham), E Heskey (Aston Villa), B Zamora (Fulham), D Bent (Sunderland).
Today: 30-man squad named
17 May: Fly to Austrian training camp
24 May: Friendly v Mexico at Wembley
25 May: Return to Austrian camp
30 May: Friendly v Japan in Graz
30/31 May: Final 23-man squad named
2 June: Squad departs for South Africa
12 June: First group game v USA