England are in pole position to qualify from Group Six for the 2010 World Cup and they’ll move one step closer to that target when they beat Ukraine at Wembley on Wednesday, April 1st 2009.
A win in this fixture will give England 5 wins out of 5, and with tricky away ties to Croatia and Belarus already negotiated safely, the away game to Ukraine in October will probably come at a time when England have already qualified for the World Cup.
Before the Ukraine game, England face Slovakia in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday 28 March.
The squad picked for these two games includes Ben Foster, who Capello wants to take a closer look at in training before possibly giving him a role in the friendly, Leighton Baines as backup to A. Cole, Ledley King who will probably only play the friendly if at all, Aaron Lennon who should get a look-in at the friendly and Carlton Cole, who’s there because Capello doesn’t trust Michael Owen, because Ashton is injured and because England really, really lack in good strikers.
Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor are missing, presumably because a) Capello’s had his ‘look’ at them or b) Capello thinks they need more maturity and experience or c) Capello thinks they’re rattled and need a break. I’m going with A and B. Micah Richards is missing as well, presumably for the same two reasons. I still think these three will go to South Africa over people like Upson and Cole, plus there’s Walcott waiting in the U-21s as well.
Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham United), Ben Foster (Manchester United)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Joleon Lescott (Everton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Matthew Upson (West Ham United), Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), David Beckham (AC Milan), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur), Steven Gerrad (Liverpool).
Forwards: Carlton Cole (West Ham United), Peter Crouch (Portsmouth), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).