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Capello calls up Heskey for England friendly

SoccerNews in English Premier League, World Cup 16 Aug 2008


England manager Fabio Capello has called up Emile Heskey but left out Peter Crouch for next Wednesday's friendly against the Czech Republic.

Capello was at Upton Park to watch Heskey in action for Wigan on Saturday and once West Ham's Dean Ashton was ruled out with injury he turned to the former Liverpool man instead of Portsmouth's new recruit Crouch.

Aston Villa's Ashley Young was the other surprise absentee, while there was no place either for Tottenham forward Darren Bent.

After four friendlies to get a feel for the job, the real work starts now for Capello as next month's World Cup qualifiers with Andorra and Croatia loom large.

And the Italian has turned to the familiar figure of Heskey for England's final run-out. Heskey looked like coming to Steve McClaren's rescue when he was restored to the England fold last September, only for injury to rule him out after impressive performances against Israel and Russia.

Heskey's call up came after an injury to Dean Ashton after he had scored twice for West Ham in front of Capello at Upton Park on Saturday.

With Michael Owen missing and Wayne Rooney due to make his return from injury for Manchester United, 30-year-old Heskey should be involved at some point, especially as both Crouch and Aston Villa's Ashley Young have been overlooked.

While Young has time on his side, the omens do not look encouraging for Crouch, who left Liverpool for Portsmouth in an 11 million deal this summer.

No fewer than 13 members of England's 23-man squad are in action on Sunday.

Theo Walcott, who has survived in the senior squad when many others, including Micah Richards, have found themselves returning to England Under-21 duty.

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart keeps his place, although former number one Paul Robinson has been included along with veteran David James.

In defence, Manchester United captain Gary Neville has been overlooked as Capello takes Sir Alex Ferguson's word that the full-back needs more action at club level before he can be considered for international duty.

Capello's assistant Franco Baldini will be at Old Trafford on Sunday to see United – and Rooney – tackle Newcastle.

The coach himself will watch Chelsea in action against Portsmouth, taking one last look at John Terry before deciding whether the defender will retain the captain's armband or if he will give it to Rio Ferdinand when he makes his final decision on Tuesday lunchtime.

Defensive duo Matthew Upson and Jonathan Woodgate will join up on Sunday night, with David Beckham flying in from Los Angeles before travelling on to Beijing to take part in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games as London takes centre stage.

England squad

Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Paul Robinson (Blackburn), Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham), Matthew Upson (West Ham)

Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), David Bentley (Tottenham)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth), Emile Heskey (Wigan)


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