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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League

No wholesale changes to England squad

England coach Fabio Capello will notify clubs on Thursday of around 32 players that he will consider for his squad for the Hungary friendly on August 11, with Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs tipped for a call-up.

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Capello will name his final 23 on Saturday evening but, while the nation is seeking a fresh start after the World Cup debacle in South Africa, wholesale changes are not expected.

The emerging talents of Wilshere and Gibbs have been left out of the England Under-21 squad along with Micah Richards, Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott. However, while there is room for potential young stars to make the breakthrough, the spine of the old guard will remain, more out of necessity than design, for now.

Soccernet has been informed by sources close to the England camp that Capello cannot take too many risks with European Championship qualifiers at home to Bulgaria and away to the impressive Swiss, following just one warm-up game.

"It will be a long process, it cannot be done overnight, that is not possible if England need to qualify for the European Championships," said a source. "It would be dangerous to make wholesale changes to discard the best players, because they remain the best players, unless someone can suddenly come up with players who are better.

"The point is that this is the only time to get the players together to sort out the team in time for two very important European Championship qualifiers.''

Capello's pragmatic approach will not endear him to a now sceptical English public who want to see new faces involved in the set-up, and many expect the fans to be yelling for the blood of the old guard when the players walk out at Wembley on August 11.

With captain Rio Ferdinand out injured, John Terry's position in the heart of the defence has come under the microscope after his ill-advised comments in South Africa. However, Terry is unlikely to pay the price with his place in the team.

"Fabio is not disappointed with the behaviour of the players despite what has been suggested, reported and said,'' the source added. ''It might be tempting to refresh the team, but often that can affect the young players if too many come into the team all in one go.

"The reality is that the manager doesn't have much to complain about the players. They simply didn't perform, and that was the problem. However the intention is to look forward, to bring in young players and give them a chance, but it has to be a gradual process.

"Right now the job is to make the clubs aware of which of their players might be called up on Saturday evening. Some of the young players we have in mind might be better served playing for the Under-21s, than just be part of the senior squad.

"Even some of the senior players who might not be in the right condition to actually play, would need to be called up as the manager will need to go through things in the one game before the qualifiers. With all these issues the selection process is much more complicated than usual.''


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