England coach Fabio Capello will risk the ire of fans when he makes 11 changes for Tuesday’s friendly against Ghana at Wembley.
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Having secured Saturday’s 2-0 European Championship qualifying win at Wales with a full-strength lineup, Capello has released five key players to their clubs and will field a more experimental lineup for England’s first meeting with the African nation.
Undeterred by the criticism heaped upon predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson over his switching of lineups in non-competitive internationals – a practice that denied supporters who paid for tickets the opportunity to see top players – Capello wants to get another look at the rest of his squad.
He is also bound by a goodwill agreement with the clubs still involved in the Champions League to only use their players once during the international break.
”I will make 11 changes,” Capello said. ”We have to wait a little bit to see what the team will be but I want to respect the clubs and I need to look at different players.
”I don’t know what will happen about the captain.”
John Terry only returned to the role of captain against Wales after a break of 18 months but was released from the squad along with Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, Tottenham defender Michael Dawson and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Aaron Lennon, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe did not start Saturday in Cardiff, so they are still with the squad and could play at Wembley.
England’s performance against Wales was a big improvement on the teams’ last competitive outing – a 0-0 draw with Montenegro in October.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere said the squad had reviewed videos of Barcelona in an attempt to ape the Spanish club’s defensive pressing of opponents.
”We watched some videos of Barcelona and the way they pressed,” Wilshere said. ”We tried to do it like them today. We pressed high and the idea was to get some early goals and we got them.”
Ghana should pose a bigger test than Wales, giving England an opportunity to test out the tactic on a more talented opponent.
Ghana missed out on becoming the first African side to reach the World Cup semifinals last year in part because of a handball by Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, and the team can boast several players with Premier League experience.
Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, John Mensah and Michael Essien have all excelled in the English top flight and are anxious to impress in a historic match against England.
”We have been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Muntari said. ”Even the Ghanaian people have been looking forward to us playing England for a long time.
”It’s coming true, so we are very happy about it and we are just looking forward to the day."