Injury-hit England should still see off Kazakhs

ALMATY - England have been hit by a spate of injuries to senior players but should still be too strong for Kazakhstan in their World Cup Group Six qualifier on Saturday.

England left on the nine-hour flight to the Kazakh capital on Wednesday without first-choice goalkeeper David James, centre back Rio Ferdinand and midfielder Michael Carrick.

A number of others, including wingers Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing, and defender Phil Jagielka, were also missing because of injuries.

Manager Fabio Capello though, still has plenty of options as group leaders England bid for a sixth successive qualifying victory against a side who are second from bottom in the standings.

Kazakhstan have one win from their five matches - a 3-0 victory against bottom-placed Andorra.

They have lost their last four qualifiers conceding 16 goals in the process, including a 5-1 home defeat to Belarus in April.

England face Andorra next week at Wembley and back-to-back victories will take them to within three points of qualification for next year's finals in South Africa.


The first decision Capello has to make is who replaces James in goal. It will be either Robert Green of West Ham United, Scott Carson of West Bromwich Albion or former first choice Paul Robinson who finished the season in excellent form for Blackburn Rovers.

Green, who has only played twice for England despite being involved in more than 40 squads over the past five years, was hoping to get the call and told English media before he left: "It is a massive chance for the three of us. With Jamo being out for these two games it's an opportunity -- and if I get the chance I am ready for it."

Capello called Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill into the squad for the first time after Ferdinand dropped out. He is vying for the chance to partner skipper John Terry in central defence with Joleon Lescott of Everton and Matthew Upson of West Ham also hoping to play.

England defeated Kazakhstan 5-1 at Wembley last October, but were made to work hard for the victory until taking the lead early in the second half.

Kazakhstan's German coach Berndt Stork has put his players through a special exercise routine to improve their speed and stamina but his main worry is captain Ruslan Baltiyev who has missed training because of a knee injury and remains a doubt.

Possible teams:

Kazakhstan: David Loriya; Renat Abdulin, Alexandr Kislitsyn, Yuriy Logvinenko, Farkhadbek Irismetov, Samat Smakov; Andrey Karpovich, Ruslan Baltiyev; Zhambyl Kukeyev; Tanat Nusserbayev, Sergey Ostapenko

England: Robert Green; Ashley Cole, Matthew Upson, John Terry, Glen Johnson; Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch