Fabio Capello will use England’s friendly against Mexico tonight as a way of trying out both new players and new formations.
The manager will give Chelsea players John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole as well as Portsmouth’s David James the night off, after the quintet played in the FA Cup Final and only joined up with the England squad last Wednesday.
That means that, as Gareth Barry is out injured, the side will lack a number of starters, with central midfield taking on a particularly unfamiliar look. Michael Carrick, James Milner, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker will all be looking to show what they can do in that position, while Ledley King will partner Rio Ferdinand in central defence and Leighton Baines will start at left-back.
How much Adam Johnson, Michael Dawson, Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon figure largely depends on substitutions and chosen formation. Capello has expressed his preference for 4-4-2 and 4-3-1-2 configurations but also suggested ahead of the match that England could try out Wayne Rooney as a lone striker and even play with only three at the back.
Mexico meanwhile are expected to stick to a 4-4-2 line-up with the only question being over who, out of West Ham’s Guillermo Franco and Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, partners veteran Cuauhtémoc Blanco up front.
Mexico have been on a great run of one defeat in 23 since manager Javier Aguirre took over from Sven Goran Eriksson and haven’t conceded a goal in their last five friendlies.
Don’t expect a Mexico shut-out tonight though. England scored an average of 4.2 goals at home during qualification and beat Slovakia, Slovenia and Egypt in their most recent Wembley friendlies, scoring nine goals in the process. Backing 4+ goals at 2/1 would be wise – five out of England’s last eight games at Wembley have at least achieved this.
Peter Crouch has a great international goalscoring record with 20 in 37 games and he could well partner Rooney in attack tonight. If so, a bet on Crouch first goalscorer at 5/1 would be a decent one. Hernandez meanwhile is 3/1 to mark his first appearance on English soil with a goal at any point.