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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Skipper Owen to start for England
England B v Belarus
Madejski Stadium, Thursday 25 May, 2005 BST
Live commentary on BBC Radio Five Live

Michael Owen
Owen will start up front against Belarus alongside Peter Crouch
Michael Owen will captain the England B team against Belarus on Thursday.

Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson starts with Owen in attack alongside Peter Crouch to test out their partnership, while Theo Walcott will come off the bench.

Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell start in defence as they continue their return to full fitness after injury.

Owen Hargreaves is at right-back, while Michael Carrick and Jermaine Jenas play in central midfield and Aaron Lennon and Stewart Downing are on the wings.

David James has been given the nod over Robert Green in goal.

The game was originally organised to give England's fringe players a run-out, but with several players short of match fitness, Eriksson has revised his plans.

Owen said: "It's beneficial but if the World Cup was tomorrow I'd still feel I could play and you wouldn't notice I've been out for a while.

"I don't think in training that I've lost a bit of my touch or anything else. I know where the goal is and I've been scoring a few and playing well.

"It's a nice game and an important one for a lot of players. I'm not seeing it as a test or a trial or anything like that."

Cole, who missed much of the season with foot and ankle injuries, told told BBC Five Live: "I need a few more games to get full match fitness.

"I've had three starts for Arsenal and trained hard over the last week so hopefully I'll be alright for England."

Hargreaves fills in for first-choice right-back Gary Neville, while Jamie Carragher and Campbell pair up in central defence.

The five players on the stand-by list for England's World Cup squad - Phil Neville, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, Andy Johnson and Scott Carson - all join Walcott, Green, Joe Cole and Wayne Bridge on the bench.

The game at Reading's 24,000-capacity Madejski Stadium is a sell-out.

England will play two more friendlies before their first World Cup game against Paraguay on 10 June.

Hungary visit Old Trafford on 30 May, with Jamaica to follow on 3 June.


England B: James (Man City), Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), A Cole (Arsenal), Carrick (Tottenham), Carragher (Liverpool), Campbell (Arsenal), Lennon (Tottenham), Jenas (Tottenham), Crouch (Liverpool), Owen (Newcastle), Downing (Middlesbrough).
Substitutes: Bridge (Chelsea), Green (Norwich), P Neville (Everton), Dawson (Tottenham), J Cole (Chelsea), Defoe (Tottenham), Johnson (Crystal Palace), Walcott (Arsenal), Carson (Liverpool).



SEE ALSO
Walcott uncovered
25 May 06 |  England
Eriksson dismisses Walcott fears
23 May 06 |  England
World Cup warm-up games
27 Apr 06 |  England
England team guide
22 May 06 |  England
Pick your England team
08 May 06 |  Squad selectors
World Cup fixtures
09 Dec 05 |  Schedule
Have your say on the World Cup
28 Apr 06 |  Football
BBC World Cup coverage
27 Apr 06 |  BBC coverage


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