Platinum Stars 0-3 England, pre-World Cup training game
Posted on June 7, 2010 4:59 pm
Screw the result, to be honest. This was all about self-preservation and a proper workout in testing conditions.
Quite a few England journos were unimpressed by what they saw this afternoon, but Fabio Capello will surely be happy enough with what he saw.
England’s tempo was surprisingly high throughout – at Capello’s instruction, no doubt – and they dominated the Platinum Stars (as they should have). It was a functional victory with few fireworks, bar a Rooney tantrum and an excellent Rooney goal – c’est le Wayne.
Capello changed nine of his outfield players at half-time – the tease! – with only Joe Cole playing the full 90. Cole had a decent match and certainly looks much sharper and fitter than he did for Chelsea in the closing stages of last season. He must be very close to a starting place against the States; it’s probably between him and James Milner, who was also full of running, for a place on the left flank.
Can we second-guess Capello’s starting XI versus the US? Hmm, well, I’ll give it a go, assuming that we saw units of his first team at different times in today’s game. The one thing we do know is that Gareth Barry won’t start – the Man City midfielder is still working his way back to full fitness and has been told he won’t feature next Saturday.
The team I think Capello will name vs the States:
Goalkeeper: Rob Green – The West Ham stopper is the ‘safe’ pair of hands, or that’s the idea. David James hasn’t exactly shone in training, I hear, and whilst Capello rates Joe Hart as the most talented of his three keepers (Hart has looked amazing in training, I hear), he is wary of the Man City man’s lack of big-game experience. As you can tell, this is really England’s main problem area. I would gamble on Hart, who seems to have the right temperament, if not the games under his belt.
Right-back: Glen Johnson – Gave away a penalty today (poor decision by the ref though) and must learn to concentrate more on his defensive duties – like a young Rio Ferdinand, Johnson has the tendency to fall asleep once or twice during a match. Still, he offers so much going forward and is guaranteed to start against the US.
Centre-back: John Terry – Looked rock solid in the first half against the Platinum Stars. He stepped up today in Rio Ferdinand’s absence, barking orders to his team-mates and looking like the man who should have been wearing the armband. Whatever you think of the man, on the pitch he’s a natural-born leader.
Centre-back: Ledley King – Played alongside Terry in the first half vs Platinum Stars, presumably because Capello plans a Terry/King partnership against the US. It’s the right call, as long as Ledley’s knees do their job.
Left-back: Ashley Cole – Looks fresh and raring to go. So important to England’s chances that he stays fit for the next few weeks.
Right midfield: Aaron Lennon – His pace should really trouble the US defence. Hope he’s learned a little from David Beckham about crossing.
Central midfield: Frank Lampard – Didn’t do much today but guaranteed to start.
Central midfield: Steven Gerrard - Yep, until Gareth Barry comes back we’re stuck with a Lampard/Gerrard axis. Gerrard must be given licence to get forward.
Left midfield: James Milner – Capello loves Milner’s work rate and selfless personality. The Villa man’s dynamic second-half display against Platinum Stars should be enough to earn him a starting berth on the left flank come Saturday. Whan Ashley Cole bombs forward, Milner can cover or link up with the left-back. It should be a good combination for England.
Centre-forward: Emile Heskey – Missed a couple of easy chances today but his general link-up play was impressive, and he must be fresh after a light domestic season. The fact he came on and played with Rooney points to a Heskey/Rooney strike partnership.
Centre-forward: Wayne Rooney – Showed his good and bad sides today, with a brilliantly taken goal and a yellow card for dissent. Had to be told to calm down by Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce. Ah, the irony. As an England fan, I can only hope we see much more of Angel Wayne against the USA’s less-than-convincing defence.
It’s a good team. Is it a World Cup-winning team? I don’t think so, but then I didn’t think it of Italy in 2006, or Brazil in 2002, so we’ll see.
Firstly, is it good enough to beat the US? Yeah, it really should be. As I’ve said before, I think the States will breach England’s defence, perhaps more than once, but the US back four is not strong and Rooney should make hay.