Bent, Rooney to lead England against Denmark
An injury-hit England is counting on strikers Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent to overpower Denmark's defense when the teams meet in a friendly on Wednesday.sports Updated: Feb 08, 2011 16:26 IST
An injury-hit England is counting on strikers Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent to overpower Denmark's defense when the teams meet in a friendly on Wednesday.
England coach Fabio Capello left Bent at home for last year's World Cup, but has been impressed by the recent form of Aston Villa's new signing.
Bent moved to Villa from Sunderland in January for a club record 18 million pounds ($29 million), a figure that could rise to 24 million pounds with add-ons.
Another Aston Villa player, 20-year-old Kyle Walker, was a surprise inclusion in the squad after having impressed Capello in his right back role for the Midlands club while on loan from Tottenham.
Theo Walcott has also done well since his return to the England set-up after failing to make the World Cup squad. The pacy Arsenal winger said his form was helped by Capello's admission that he had made a mistake not bringing him to South Africa.
"But I'm not pointing fingers at anyone," Walcott said. "It was his decision to make and I respected that." England will line out for the game without captain Rio Ferdinand, who picked up a calf injury while warming up for Manchester United on Saturday. Steven Gerrard had been expected to deputize as captain in Copenhagen, but the Liverpool midfielder developed a groin problem as he helped his team seal a hard-fought 1-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday.
Capello bolstered his depleted squad by drafting in West Ham duo Robert Green and Carlton Cole when goalkeeper Ben Foster and striker Peter Crouch failed fitness tests on Sunday. Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor also pulled out due to personal reasons. For the hosts, the game marks a likely return to action for Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner, who hasn't played for the national team since Denmark's disappointing first-round exit in the World Cup.
Denmark coach Morten Olsen also has goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in his squad. The 26-year-old Manchester United reserve is battling for a first-team place with Denmark but Olsen has assured veteran keeper Thomas Sorensen the he remains the country's No. 1 man. England's players will be eager to avoid a repeat of the 4-1 drubbing last time the teams met, in another friendly in August 2005.
Most importantly, however, the match offers both coaches a final chance to test the depth of their squads ahead of tricky European Championship qualifiers on March 26. England will make the short trip to Cardiff to take on Wales, while the Danes face an all-Scandinavian clash with Group G leader Norway in Oslo.