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Ferdinand backs England's young guns

England captain Rio Ferdinand believes Fabio Capello is right to field a youthful team in Wednesday's friendly against France.

sports Updated: Nov 16, 2010 20:26 IST

England captain Rio Ferdinand believes Fabio Capello is right to field a youthful team in Wednesday's friendly against France.

Ferdinand will lead out an inexperienced line-up at Wembley after Capello decided to hand debuts to Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, 21, and Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson, 20, as well as giving Arsenal's 21-year-old left-back Kieran Gibbs just his second cap.

England are already without the likes of Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe due to injury, but Manchester United defender Ferdinand has no qualms about taking on a team of France's undoubted ability with an untried side.

"It's fantastic. There's nothing better than seeing a young lad get his first cap and go out there and lap it up," Ferdinand said on Tuesday.

"I look back to when I made my debut and it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

"Your family are there in the stadium all emotional and I just hope they enjoy it and put on the kind of performance they do for their clubs.

"People keep talking about injuries but that opens the door for someone else. We have a lot of young players who are hungry.

"They want to come in and do well. I've got full confidence in these young players and back them to the hilt."

Ferdinand is especially impressed with the way the likes of Henderson and Carroll have been unfazed by their first taste of the international scene during training this week.

"They are not fazed, these young lads. You can see it in the way they train," he said.

"The best thing is they all know each other from the youth teams. It's only me and Steven (Gerrard) who don't really know them.

"They are all at home here and they're loving it. That's what it is all about, getting into the squad and feeling comfortable in the game."

Most of the focus will be on Carroll on Wednesday after Capello opted to overlook the striker's off-field problems this season and bring him into the squad for the first time.

The forward has been involved in some lurid tabloid newspaper headlines following a charge of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, but Ferdinand has no doubts he has the temperament to succeed with England.

"I think he has done fantastic. He is a real talent, someone who will make it awkward to play against him, but he is not just a big fella who will head the ball, he has good feet as well. Newcastle have got a fantastic player on their hands," Ferdinand said.

Wednesday's match is a significant milestone for Ferdinand, who will win his 80th cap, but he is more concerned with subduing a gifted French outfit looking to end the year on a high after their miserable World Cup campaign.

"I'm just happy to be back playing. 80 caps is a great number but I am hoping to add a few more to that," Ferdinand said.

"It's well documented that France didn't have a great World Cup but that doesn't mean they won't be a good team.

"We know and respect them. They have some very talented players, but fear doesn't creep into it at all."

Ferdinand is also looking forward to another duel with France striker Karim Benzema, who has impressed the United star in their previous meetings.

"I've always thought Benzema was a top player. I played against him a couple of times at Lyon," he added.

"Now he is at Madrid, it's difficult to get in their team because they have so many good players but he came on at the weekend and looked very sharp. I'm sure he will add something to their team."