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Crouch to start for England vs Ukraine

April 01, 2009 12:08 IST

England coach Fabio Capello said striker Peter Crouch would start Wednesday's 2010 World Cup qualifier against Ukraine after recovering from a knock in the weekend friendly win over Slovakia.

Capello on Tuesday called up Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor in place of the injured Darren Bent who is the latest England striker to be afflicted by injury.

Bent was called into the squad as a late replacement after injuries to strikers Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole but damaged a tendon in his knee training late on Monday.

"He was feeling more pain in the warm-up this morning and stopped. I have called up Agbonlahor but I will start with Peter Crouch in attack," Capello told reporters at England's training camp just north of London.

Heskey and Cole were injured in Saturday's 4-0 victory against Slovakia and earlier injuries sustained by Jermain Defoe and Dean Ashton for their clubs has left Capello short of attacking options. The Italian does not feel Michael Owen is fit enough or in good enough form to be selected.

Agbonlahor, who has played twice for England against Germany and Spain this season, will be among the substitutes on Wednesday despite withdrawing from the England Under-21 squad last week with an injury problem.

Since making his England debut, he has suffered a loss of form at Aston Villa with just one goal in his last 16 matches and was booed by his own fans during Villa's match against Tottenham Hotspur on March 15.

Agbonlahor was left out of the squad Capello originally picked for the games against Slovakia and Ukraine, but the Italian said he picked him ahead of Owen because he has played more games.

"He has been training very well for the last few days and so I chose him for this game. The door is still open for Michael Owen and all the England players."


Capello said that Ukraine, who are unbeaten in their three opening qualifiers would provide "dangerous opposition" on Wednesday in what will be striker Wayne Rooney's 50th match for England.

"It will be a very dangerous game for us. They play very well on the counter-attack and we must be totally focussed during the game. They have played very well in all the games I have studied and it will be a very tough game tomorrow."

He also said that Ukraine striker Andrei Shevchenko would pose a huge threat to the England defence.

"Of course I know him very well from Italian football and he scored a lot of goals against us when I was manager at Roma. He is a fantastic striker -- a very good player. He hasn't played a lot this season with AC Milan but he is always dangerous in the box."

England go into the game as Group Six leaders with 12 points from their opening four matches. Croatia are second with seven points from their four games with Ukraine third with seven from three matches.

Mike Collett
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