England v Mexico preview
Three Lions kick off preparations with Mexican Wembley warm-up
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: May 24, 2010 7:29pm
Capello: Plans to tinker in Mexico warm-up
England's World Cup preparations move up a gear as they welcome Mexico to Wembley on Monday evening.
Fabio Capello's side return to London for their first friendly ahead of the South Africa finals after spending a week in Austria acclimatising to conditions akin to what they will experience next month.
A lot has been said of the Wembley turf in the last 12 months and Monday's back pages have been filled with more criticism of the playing surface after Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher suffered two pitch-related injuries in his team's Championship play-off final win over Cardiff City on Saturday.
England captain Rio Ferdinand has spoken out ahead of the Three Lions' clash with Mexico and has told the stadium chiefs to sort their priorities and decide whether the famous ground is designed for football or multi-purpose events.
With Capello already having several injury concerns heading into South Africa, the Italian will be desperate for his players to come through unscathed as he gets his first chance to assess his 30-man squad before cutting it down to 23 next week.
England team news
So expect a much-changed team from the one that dispatched African Cup of Nations champions Egypt 3-1 last time in a side that could include Joe Hart, Ledley King and Tom Huddlestone from the outset.
Capello could give Manchester City keeper Hart, who impressed on a season-long loan at Birmingham City this season, the first half to see how he handles himself.
West Ham's Robert Green, who has generally been the Italian's first choice for the past 12 months, is likely to feature at some point while David James will have to wait until the Japan friendly to stake his claim for the No.1 jersey.
In defence, Chelsea duo Ashley Cole and John Terry will not be risked after their FA Cup exploits so Leighton Baines and King should gain starting berths along with Ferdinand and Glen Johnson, who have both been nursing their way to full fitness.
King looks set to get his first cap in three years after starring in Tottenham's defence at the tail end of the campaign and his team-mate Huddlestone could also be rewarded for his performances at White Hart Lane with the holding role in the Three Lions' midfield.
The former Derby midfielder will battle it out with Scott Parker for a place on the plane to South Africa if Gareth Barry fails to recover from an ankle injury, so expect West Ham's talisman to also get a run-out, potentially alongside James Milner in England's engine-room.
Aaron Lennon looked a dead-cert for the right wing role before a groin injury claimed a third of his season, but the Spurs man has returned to fitness and should start ahead of the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott.
Steven Gerrard, who said he will decide his Liverpool future after the World Cup, is almost guaranteed to start on the left while Peter Crouch's goalscoring record for the national side could see him partner Wayne Rooney in attack.
Mexico team news
Mexico, meanwhile, will be keen to get their World Cup preparations underway by frustrating England in front of their home fans.
Javier Aguirre's side, who are in Group A alongside France, South Africa and Uruguay, have players who can worry the Three Lions with Deportivo winger Andres Guardado one of their top performers as well as Giovani Dos Santos, who has been sent out on loan by Tottenham.
El Tri also have a solid double-act in central defence with Rafael Marquez and Ricardo Osorio forming the basis of their rearguard for the past five years while supporters of Arsenal and West Ham will be familiar with the talents of strike duo Carlos Vela and Guillermo Franco.
Possible starting XIs
England: Hart, Johnson, King, Ferdinand, Baines, Lennon, Huddlestone, Milner, Gerrard, Crouch, Rooney.
Mexico: Ochoa, Salcido, Marquez, Osorio, Juarez, Guardado, J Dos Santos, Torrado, G Dos Santos, Franco, Blanco.