Bent, Rooney to lead England

BY foxsports • February 8, 2011

Frank Lampard will captain an injury-hit England team that is counting on strikers Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent to overpower Denmark's defense in their friendly on Wednesday.

Lampard was the given the armband in the absence of regular captain Rio Ferdinand and vice-captain Steven Gerrard. The Chelsea midfielder has suffered major injury woes this season and has not been involved with England since August.

"I'm just a very proud man at the moment," said Lampard, who had previously only worn the armband in the second half of a match against Austria in 2007 under former coach Steve McClaren.

"I've been in the squad for a long time and feel like one of the older stagers now, so it's going to be one of the proudest moments of my career to lead out the boys. I know it's a cliche, but you do grow up dreaming of that moment and now it's been thrust upon me."

Wednesday's match is meanwhile a reprieve for Bent after England coach Fabio Capello left him at home for last year's World Cup. However, the Italian has been impressed by the recent form of Aston Villa's new signing.

Bent moved to Villa from Sunderland in January for a club record 18 million pounds ($29 million), a figure that could rise to 24 million pounds with add-ons.

Another Aston Villa player, 20-year-old Kyle Walker, was a surprise inclusion in the squad after having impressed Capello in his right back role for the Midlands club while on loan from Tottenham.

Theo Walcott has also done well since his return to the England set-up after failing to make the World Cup squad. The pacy Arsenal winger said his form was helped by Capello's admission that he had made a mistake not bringing him to South Africa.

"But I'm not pointing fingers at anyone," Walcott said. "It was his decision to make and I respected that."

England will line up for the game without Ferdinand, who picked up a calf injury while warming up for Manchester United on Saturday. Gerrard had been expected to deputize as captain in Copenhagen, but the Liverpool midfielder developed a groin problem as he helped his team seal a hard-fought 1-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday.

Capello bolstered his depleted squad by drafting in West Ham duo Robert Green and Carlton Cole when goalkeeper Ben Foster and striker Peter Crouch failed fitness tests on Sunday. Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor also pulled out due to personal reasons.

For Capello, the game is an opportunity to look at some new faces ahead of the European Championship qualifiers.

"It will be interesting to see some of the younger players. They will be the future," he told a news conference. "I am really happy with these players and the players that played before."

Lampard agreed, saying: "It's nice to see some of the younger players come through." He added that he expected a "tough game" on Wednesday.

For the hosts, the game marks a likely return to action for Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner, who hasn't played for the national team since Denmark's disappointing group-stage exit in the World Cup.

Denmark coach Morten Olsen also has goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in his squad. The 26-year-old Manchester United reserve is battling for a first-team place with Denmark but Olsen has assured veteran keeper Thomas Sorensen that he remains the country's No. 1 man.

England's players will be eager to avoid a repeat of the 4-1 drubbing last time the teams met, in another friendly in August 2005.

Most importantly, however, the match offers both coaches a final chance to test the depth of their squads ahead of tricky European Championship qualifiers on March 26. England will make the short trip to Cardiff to take on Wales, while the Danes face an all-Scandinavian clash with Group G leader Norway in Oslo.
 


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