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Oct 13, 2009

Gerrard out of Belarus clash after missing training

Steven Gerrard will miss England's World Cup qualifier against Belarus because of a groin injury. The Liverpool captain picked up the injury during Saturday's 1-0 defeat in Ukraine and limped out of Tuesday morning's training session.

England boss Fabio Capello, who said he would name an ''experimental side'', said: ''He didn't finish training because the pain was the same as yesterday. He's going back to Liverpool.''

Goalkeeper David James is also a doubt for the final Group Six clash at Wembley after missing training.

''He had some problems with his knee,'' said Capello. ''He's getting better, he'll stay with us and tomorrow we'll decide. '''I will speak with him tomorrow. The other players are fit. There are some little problems but not so big to be a problem.''

Capello also stressed the need for a different style, despite eight wins from nine qualifiers. ''We need to play other styles - style A, B, C. It depends on the opposition and the style of the game we need to play,'' he said. ''I will do some experiments against Belarus. It's possible to see a different style on the pitch and that will be very interesting for me. For me, it is a lot of experiments.''

However, the Italian backed Rio Ferdinand to bounce back from the error which led to Robert Green being dismissed on Saturday. Asked if he was concerned about Ferdinand's form, he said: ''No. Rio will play tomorrow. I have big confidence in Rio, he needs to play and I'm sure that Rio will get better every game.

''I spoke with Rio, on Monday and this morning, and I will speak also with some other players. We will see the DVD of the game to understand what happened and I will see the mistakes.''

Also missing from the squad will be Wayne Rooney, who withdrew on Sunday with a calf injury. Capello is viewing the Manchester United striker's absence as a good opportunity to test out the rest of his squad, with Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor widely expected to start.

He said: ''Rooney is a very important player for us and also for United but the result tomorrow is we'll play a different style, with some different players and it will be a very interesting game for me. I will know some players better.

''I have big confidence in all the players. Rooney is important because his style is the style I like in my team, but we have other important players. We can win with Rooney and without Rooney.''

Skipper John Terry acknowledged that losing Rooney was a blow but believes it is an opportunity for others to stake their claim for a place in the World Cup squad.

''We have seen what a big player Wayne is for the side,'' Terry said. ''He has been the heartbeat of the campaign and he has been in great form. He is going to be sorely missed tomorrow night but it is a chance for other players to come in and make their case to be on the plane.''

Agbonlahor is one player who could benefit from Rooney's absence and club team-mate Emile Heskey can help him to shine, according to Terry.

''People talk about his goalscoring but Emile offers a lot more than that. He is very hard to play against and his link-up play is fantastic,'' said Terry. ''He has helped bring out the best in Wayne in the past and tomorrow night it is a chance for him to help someone else.

''Even players who have been playing regularly feel under threat because if we are not playing well the manager is strong enough to drop us.''

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