Crouch injury hits England qualifying preparations

ENGLAND boss Fabio Capello’s striking options for the Euro 2012 qualifying double header have shrunk after Peter Crouch pulled out of the squad.

Tottenham frontman Crouch will miss Friday’s clash with Bulgaria and the trip to Switzerland on Tuesday after failing to recover from a back injury.

Capello is not expected to call up a replacement, however, having named an extra striker in his initial 24-man squad as a precaution. Wayne Rooney, Carlton Cole, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent are the forwards in contention.

The Italian had some better news from midfielder Gareth Barry, who insisted that the head coach retains the support of his players despite some fierce post-World Cup criticism.

“Everyone is right behind the manager,” said Manchester City player Barry. “I firmly believe the players and manager can go on and do great things. He is still the man to take England forward.

“I have not noticed anything different. He still wants us to play at a high tempo but the whole squad is pretty relaxed. Everything is pretty chilled there so there are not too many changes. We just want to get the results right. That is going to be what makes people happy.”

Everton defender Phil Jagielka also sat out training with an ankle injury.