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England news

James fit to fight for place against USA

June 11, 2010
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

England goalkeeper David James has declared himself "100% fit" but still doesn't know if he will start against the USA, despite being handed the No.1 shirt.

David James in training with England
GettyImagesDavid James in training with England

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Manager Fabio Capello has so far declined to inform the players of his team selection for the World Cup opener and Soccernet has obtained the inside story of the mood inside the England dressing room.

A source close to the players said: "Fabio Capello has not told the players, even though he has come out and says he knows his team. That is unusual for him.

"Throughout the qualifying campaign, he told his players well in advance of the tram. The players are surprised he has conducted himself differently at the World Cup."

James was Capello's first choice goalkeeper but a back injury allowed West Ham's Robert Green to stake his claim during the final World Cup qualifying matches and a number of friendly internationals.

James, 39, has since been troubled by a knee injury but he is now ready to play. Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart, who impressed enough on loan at Birmingham City to claim a spot on in the final squad, is also an outside contender.

"He [James] has told Fabio Capello that he is 100 per cent fit, but he has no idea whether he will play," the source said.

"He is by far the most experienced keeper and everyone recalls what happened when Steve McClaren took a gamble with Scott Carson in the final European Championship qualifier against Croatia at Wembley ... so it would be a huge game to with Joe Hart."

Another source close to the players told Soccernet: "The goalkeeping position is the one that is keeping everyone guessing. Some of the players think that Capello does like Joe Hart, but it's the big question whether he would be selected for such an important game."

The players are expecting Capello to let them into his team selection secrets later on Friday. The other big issue is whether he will select Peter Crouch or Emile Heskey to support Wayne Rooney in attack, and Crouch looks like getting the nod.

In which case, Capello will go with a more familiar 4-4-2. Although the feeling is that in the latter stages, Capello will play five in midfield with Gareth Barry the holding player, and then Rooney as the lone striker, with, at some stage within the game, Joe Cole playing behind Rooney.