Will Fabio back his Spurs stars for World Cup opener? Part 2/2

Who will partner Wayne Rooney up front – if anyone? DEFOE may have started with Crouch on Monday but he has very little chance of making the first XI against USA. Tottenham s top scorer has effectively gone to South Africa as a back-up...

By Ben Pearce

Who will partner Wayne Rooney up front - if anyone?

DEFOE may have started with Crouch on Monday but he has very little chance of making the first XI against USA.

Tottenham's top scorer has effectively gone to South Africa as a back-up for Rooney - or an impact substitute - rather than as a foil for the Manchester United talisman.


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Again, if England seal early qualification from Group C, Capello may be tempted to rest Rooney and start with Defoe, but not this weekend. Instead, the question will be whether the Italian manager opts for Crouch or Emile Heskey.

It could, of course, be neither - Capello could opt for a formation which utilises only one forward, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1, with Steven Gerrard or Joe Cole supporting Rooney.

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That seems unlikely, though. Capello played with Rooney and Heskey up top throughout the qualifying campaign, while Crouch has scored 21 England goals in 38 games, and 17 in 18 starts - not including Monday's match.

It would be strange if Capello decided to shun both of his big men. England's set pieces are a valuable weapon, and the Three Lions' aerial dominance will only be aided by adidas' 'Jubulani' World Cup ball.

Capello and his players will certainly be interested to hear USA's complaints after their 3-1 win over Australia on Saturday.

"It's terrible," said goalkeeper Tim Howard. "You will hear that a lot next week, next month. We are trying to get used to it, trying to read an unreadable situation."

Coach Bob Bradley admitted: "Judging the flight has become an issue," and defender Jay DeMerit added: "A lot of our problems defensively against Australia were just trying to get used to the ball. Even the easy crosses can be difficult. We don't understand how this ball is working yet."

If the Americans have seen Heskey's recent headed attempts against Japan and the Platinum Stars, they will probably be much less concerned.

There is little doubt that Crouch would represent a greater, and more accurate threat, inside the penalty area. However, Capello insists that Heskey is a more effective foil for Rooney, whose impact will largely define his country's hopes.

Much of the team will pick itself but, up front, England and Spurs fans we will have to wait and see.

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