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Oct 14, 2009

Capello opts for Agbonlahor and Crouch

England boss Fabio Capello will turn to Gabriel Agbonlahor and Peter Crouch against Belarus when he experiences his first World Cup qualifier without Wayne Rooney.

Rooney has played all nine of Capello's competitive matches but has a calf strain for the 10th and is joined on the sidelines by Steven Gerrard, whose groin complaint has given the Italian another reason to experiment with systems and fringe players in the dead rubber.

With a place in South Africa secured, Capello wants to look at "plan A, B, C'', which on this occasion means being without Rooney, just like Sven-Goran Eriksson was for an hour against Portugal during the quarter-finals of the last World Cup.

Against the same opponents at the same stage of the European Championships two years earlier, Rooney limped off after 26 minutes and England were defeated on penalties - so Capello is aware there needs to be an alternative way to success.

"The two forwards will be Crouch and Agbonlahor,'' Capello confirmed. "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. We played always more or less the same style in all the games we've played.

"Sometimes, during the friendly games, we've changed it. But we need to practise other styles. I want to see some players in different positions.''

"When I decide the squad, I decide always different styles that I can play with it with the players who will be with me. Why wouldn't they have that capacity?''

Robert Green is suspended after his red card against Ukraine at the weekend, but David James' return has been complicated by a knee complaint. The Portsmouth goalkeeper is expected to need a late fitness test.

Gerrard's absence could give James Milner an opportunity on the left wing, Agbonlahor and Crouch will lead the attack, while Rio Ferdinand will get the chance to atone for his mistake in Dnipropetrovsk that led to Green's dismissal.

Capello has talked to Ferdinand about his error and insists he has total confidence in the Manchester United centre-back.

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

"I spoke with him about the moment, and different things. It was only about the last game. He's a good man, a big man, an important player for England and United.''

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