x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

England and Algeria managers share No 1 concerns

Fabio Capello and Rabah Saadane share a common dilemma ahead of their countries' crucial Group C clash in Cape Town.

CAPE TOWN // Fabio Capello and Rabah Saadane, the respective managers of England and Algeria, share a common dilemma ahead of their countries' crucial Group C clash in Cape Town tomorrow night. Costly, opening match handling errors by both managers' goalkeepers have put the positions of England's Robert Green and Algeria's Faouzi Chaouchi under the spotlight. England's Green debate has seen Capello stick to a pledge not to reveal his World Cup selections until two hours before kick off, while Saadane has insisted he will only withdraw Chaouch if the stopper asks to be dropped. Capello, however, has revealed that he is ready to end Gareth Barry's six-week injury lay-off by throwing the Manchester City midfielder into action against the Desert Foxes. With England badly needing three points against Algeria, the bottom side in Group C, Barry, who has been recovering from damaged ankle ligaments, is ready to step in. "Definitely, I had trained four or five days with the team last week [before the US game] and I was maybe a little match rusty, but I've had another week's training now - I'm ready for the game," Barry said. Cast by Capello in a deep-lying holding role, Barry, 29, was a constant presence in England's midfield during a successful qualifying campaign. With his central anchor ruled out of England's opening 1-1 draw with the US, Capello opted for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the middle of the pitch - a combination that has repeatedly flattered to deceive at international level. Barry's return is expected to see Capello shift Gerrard, the England captain, back to left-sided duties, although the Italian is also believed to be considering dropping Emile Heskey, the goal-shy England striker, and deploying Gerrard behind Wayne Rooney, cast in a sole striking berth. Whatever formation Capello settles on, Barry knows that England must improve to ensure they to the next round of a competition the Three Lions started as third favourites. "I thought [the game against the US] was a good performance, the one criticism was probably the finishing," said Barry. "On another day we could have had three or four. We had the better chances and we were disappointed with the draw, but now we're looking forward to the next game. Two wins will see us through." emegson@thenational.ae