England v Spain preview
Three Lions face world and European champions at Wembley
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 12/11/11 9:45am
England's preparations for Euro 2012 get under way on Saturday, with reigning world and European champions Spain due at Wembley.
Much of the build-up to the game has been dominated by a row regarding poppies on international jerseys, but Fifa have granted permission for England to have the Remembrance Day emblem embroidered on their black armbands and the focus can now revert back to football.
The contest may be being billed as a friendly, but both sides have serious business to attend to.
Next summer's European Championships are edging ever closer and blueprints for success need to be drawn up.
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England have struggled in the recent past to put such plans together and a trip to Ukraine and Poland in seven months' time will present national coach Fabio Capello with his final opportunity to get things right.
The Italian will step down from his post at the end of Euro 2012 and will want to do so on a high.
A positive performance against Spain would help to raise spirits in the camp and put down an early marker to the rest of Europe.
England's recent record against their weekend opponents is not good, though, with setbacks suffered in their last three meetings.
The Three Lions have also been alarmingly toothless in those outings, with no goals scored in the three fixtures.
Capello's men have, however, only failed to find the target in one of their last 11 friendlies, netting 22 times during that run.
They also got back to winning ways at Wembley last time out against Wales, having gone four games without a win on home soil prior to that all-British encounter.
Frank Lampard was returned to England's starting XI for the game against the Welsh, and he will lead the side out against Spain after inheriting the captain's armband from Chelsea team-mate John Terry - who is set to be rested.
The Three Lions will be hoping Lampard can inspire them victory, while they will also hope that Joe Hart continues to be a lucky charm - with the Manchester City keeper yet to taste defeat in his 14 international appearances to date.
He can, however, expect to be in for a busy afternoon on Saturday, with Spain bringing a wealth of attacking options with them.
Vicente del Bosque's all-conquering side have scored 28 times in their last 10 internationals and have only failed to trouble the scorers once in their last 22.
That record is not surprising when you consider that they can select from a striking pool that includes the likes of David Villa, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, David Silva and Juan Mata.
Villa alone has scored over 10 times as many international goals (50) as England's five forwards have mustered between them - with Darren Bent the only man called upon by Capello to have found the target for his country.
Once England booked their place at Euro 2012 with a 2-2 draw in Montenegro, Capello revealed that he intended to use upcoming friendly dates as an opportunity to experiment and take a look at a few fresh faces.
Everton's Jack Rodwell and Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge have been selected for the first time and will be hoping to earn their first senior caps this weekend, along with Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker.
Bobby Zamora has been drafted back into the fold and will be keen to stake his claim to the striking berth set to be vacated by the suspended Wayne Rooney for England's opening three games at next summer's Euros, but the unfortunate Gabriel Agbonlahor has suffered another untimely injury and will play no part.
A decision is yet to be taken on Phil Jagielka's involvement in the game, with England's medical staff liaising with their colleagues at Everton regarding the defender's broken toe.
Spain will be without Javi Martinez on Saturday, with the Athletic Bilbao midfielder having been forced to withdraw from their squad through injury.
Del Bosque has no other concerns to contend with and is expected to name a strong starting XI.
Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will be keen to play some part on his return to London, while the likes of Jesus Navas and Nacho Monreal will be eager to impress after being brought back into the squad following lengthy spells spent on the outside looking in.
Possible starting XIs
England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Lescott, Cole, Lampard, Barry, Jones, Sturridge, Bent, Welbeck.
Spain: Casillas, Ramos, Pique, Puyol, Alba, Fabregas, Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Villa.