England to make changes for friendly against Ghana

LONDON — Andy Carroll, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines will play in a much-changed lineup for Tuesday’s friendly against Ghana at Wembley, England coach Fabio Capello said Monday.

By (AP)

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Published: Mon 28 Mar 2011, 7:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:34 PM

Although Capello has reconsidered his original intention to make 11 changes, the trio will be among several players to come into the side after sitting out Saturday’s 2-0 European Championship qualifying win at Wales.

Undeterred by the criticism heaped upon predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson over his switching of lineups in non-competitive internationals — a practice that denied supporters who paid for tickets the opportunity to see top players — Capello wants to get a look at the rest of his squad.

“I respect the fans,” Capello said. “It will be interesting for the fans to see some players they know very well, it will be interesting for me and for the fans. The players who will play will be really good players.

“It’s really important for the players to understand the spirit of the team and I hope tomorrow we can see the spirit on the pitch like in the first 30 minutes against Wales.”

Capello is also bound by a goodwill agreement with the clubs still involved in the Champions League to only use their players once during the international break. He released five key players to their clubs ahead of England’s first meeting with Ghana.

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry will lead the team after John Terry, who only returned to the role of captain against Wales after a break of 18 months, was rested along with Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, Tottenham defender Michael Dawson and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

Tottenham players Aaron Lennon, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe did not start Saturday in Cardiff, so they are still with the squad and could play at Wembley.

Carroll has started just two matches since his high-profile switch from Newcastle to Liverpool in January, but is set to lead the England attack. He could play alongside Darren Bent as one of two forwards, or could replace him if Capello opts to stick with his fluid 4-3-3 formation.

While Capello said that Scott Parker will retain his midfield place just in front of the defense if he is fit, Baines would be a straight replacement for Cole at left back, while Jagielka would fill in for central defender Dawson.

England’s performance against Wales was a big improvement on the teams’ last competitive outing — a 0-0 draw with Montenegro in October.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere said the squad had reviewed videos of Barcelona in an attempt to ape the Spanish club’s defensive pressing of opponents.

“We watched some videos of Barcelona and the way they pressed,” Wilshere said. “We tried to do it like them today. We pressed high and the idea was to get some early goals and we got them.”

Ghana should pose a bigger test than Wales, giving England an opportunity to test out the tactic on a more talented opponent.

Ghana missed out on becoming the first African side to reach the World Cup semifinals last year in part because of a handball by Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, and the team can boast several players with Premier League experience.

Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah and Michael Essien are among those to have excelled in the English top flight and are anxious to impress in a historic match against England.

“We have been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Muntari said. “Even the Ghanaian people have been looking forward to us playing England for a long time.

“It’s coming true, so we are very happy about it and we are just looking forward to the day.”

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has a full strength squad to choose from following Sunday’s 3-0 African Cup of Nations qualifying win at Republic of Congo.

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