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Sep 3, 2010

Defoe and Rooney lead England attack

England manager Fabio Capello has confirmed Jermain Defoe will partner Wayne Rooney in attack as the Three Lions begin their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign against Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday night.

• Soccernet Preview: England v Bulgaria
• Gruelling season harms England
• Gerrard backs under-fire Capello
Capello furious over 'Jackass' headline
Capello: Rooney ready to shine

Tottenham striker Defoe, who has shelved plans to have an operation on a niggling groin injury, has found the net just once so far this season, scoring in a Champions League qualifier against Young Boys.

Meanwhile, strike partner Rooney only ended a goal drought that stretched back to March when he scored from the penalty spot in Manchester United's 3-0 win against West Ham United last Saturday.

But Capello is not worried by his strikers' form. "I saw Rooney play against West Ham," he said. "He started so-so, but afterwards he played well. He scored a goal, a penalty, and after that he played with the Rooney style."

"He's been scoring goals in training and I think he'll be okay. Rooney will play with Jermain Defoe," Capello confirmed.

Capello is likely to stick with the 4-4-2 system that served the national team so well in qualification for the World Cup but was hugely criticised for its inflexible nature at the tournament itself.

The England manager's major concern is in central defence. Chelsea skipper John Terry has joined long-term absentee Rio Ferdinand on the injury list and so Capello will hand Phil Jagielka a start, despite the Everton defender carrying an injury, alongside Tottenham's Michael Dawson.

"(Jagielka) is fit, he trained well, there is a little bit of pain but I think he will be 100%. I'm not concerned but I know that the central defenders will play for the first time together. I hope they will be really focusing every moment of the game and I hope [Ashley] Cole and [Glen] Johnson will help these two players, and also the midfield."

England team: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe.

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