Filed: Wednesday, 9th September 2009
By: Greg Mansell
West Ham are set to be well represented in tonight's vital 2010 World Cup Qualifier for England versus Croatia at Wembley, knowing a win will secure the Three Lions place for the finals in South Africa next summer.
Robert Green and Matthew Upson are all but assured of a place in tonight's starting line-up, while front-man Carlton Cole will be hoping to make an impact from the bench after recent encouraging cameos against the Netherlands and Slovenia on Saturday.
Following excellent club form and injury to Portsmouth's David James, Rob Green's has finally had the chance to stake a claim for the number one spot under Fabio Capello, after years of being over looked by previous manager Steve McClaren.
The continued exclusion of Green had prompted the former Norwich keeper to don his now infamous 'England's number Six' goal-keeper gloves.
But a good performance tonight should at very least secure Green the number two spot for South Africa next summer ahead of Manchester United's Ben Foster, whose form has been erratic, while also presenting a real long-term challenge to the injured David James.
Matthew Upson also looks set to again take his place in front of Green, alongside captain John Terry in the centre of defence, in the continued absence of former Hammers legend, Rio Ferdinand.
Upson has been Capello's preferred deputy when Terry or Ferdinand have been out and a series of steady displays make the West Ham stopper another sure bet to make the plane for South Africa, should England prevail tonight.
Carlton Cole faces a more difficult task to get game-time with Capello likely to opt for Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney from the off. Tottenham Hotspur's Jermain Defoe is also in white hot club form at present and has mounted a strong claim for a starting berth and should he fail is likely to be represent Plan B for Capello.
However, Cole has shown in recent friendlies against the Netherlands and Slovenia his awesome strength represents a real problem for tiring defences, so any Hammers fans in attendance at Wembley should be disappointed not to see three Claret and Blue representatives on the pitch together with 15 minutes to go.
England Probable line-up: Green, Johnson, Terry, Upson, A Cole, Lennon, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Heskey, Rooney.
England versus Croatia, Wembley, Kick off: 20.00 (Live on ITV)
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