ARIA vs ENGLAND
MANCHESTER UNITED youngsters Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones are ready to make their international debuts in tonight’s crunch European Championship qualifier in Bulgaria, according to England skipper John Terry.
The trio have played a significant part in United’s barnstorming start to the defence of their Premier League crown and have all been rewarded with call-ups to the senior squad.
Injuries have deprived manager Fabio Capello of key defensive and midfield stalwarts, opening up the intriguing prospect of Smalling, Jones and Cleverley making their debuts in Sofia.
“They are ready to start – they have shown that at United,” said Terry. “They have done well at a very big side and they have come into the England squad and felt very assured – and rightly so because they are huge talents. They’ve got an awful lot to give.
“You don’t go into the Manchester United side if you are not ready and they have showed some great individual performances already.”
Capello, whose side top Group G on goal difference from Montenegro, is also sweating on the fitness of striker Darren Bent.
A groin injury has prevented the Aston Villa man from training at all this week and should he fail to recover, Capello could revert back to a 4-4-2 system and deploy Ashley Young behind Wayne Rooney.