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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:03 UK

World Cup 2010: Defoe and Milner start for England


Jermain Defoe will start for England in place of Emile Heskey
Defoe gets his first start at the World Cup in place of Emile Heskey

England coach Fabio Capello has rung the changes for his side's crucial World Cup group match against Slovenia, handing striker Jermain Defoe a start.

Defoe will start alongside Wayne Rooney in place of Emile Heskey, while James Milner comes into the midfield with Aaron Lennon dropped to the bench.

As expected, Matthew Upson replaced the suspended Jamie Carragher in defence.

It could be that captain Steven Gerrard is handed a more central role in a 4-3-1-2 formation.

England team to face Slovenia in World Cup Group C:
James, Johnson, Upson, Terry, A Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Barry, Lampard, Rooney, Defoe.

It is a do-or-die situation

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard has vowed that England will adopt a "do-or-die" mentality as they bid to avoid crashing out of the World Cup.

Capello's stuttering team must beat Slovenia to guarantee a place in the last-16 knockout stage.

"It is a do-or-die situation," conceded Liverpool midfielder Gerrard, 30.

The nation's footballers have not failed to qualify for the knockout stages of a World Cup since 1958 but their ongoing participation in the 2010 event now hangs in the balance after an opening 1-1 draw with the United States was followed by a 0-0 stalemate with Algeria.

Controversy has dogged the England camp since the final whistle of that drab encounter on Friday.


As he walked off the pitch, striker Rooney criticised some England fans for booing the team, while coach Capello said deposed captain John Terry made a "big mistake" after giving a press conference in which he appeared to question the Italian's training and tactics.

Following their struggles on the pitch, Capello identified the fierce glare of the spotlight his players are under as a potential reason for their individual and collective below-par performances - a point that Gerrard recognised ahead of the crucial Slovenia match.

"It would be an absolute disaster for this group of players to go home after the group stages," he stated. "The key is to try and live without fear.

"There is pressure and fear but the fear of not winning drives you on. We've come here to stay in this tournament to the end. We need to perform, we need to improve on the last performance.

Jurgen Klinsmann

Klinsmann still has belief in England

"You have to go on to the pitch and try and relax, be patient. The performance will come.

"We want to make the nation proud and happy and a good win can give the players more confidence."

England must win to potentially top the group but if both they and the United States - who face Algeria - draw their matches, Capello's side need to score two goals more than the Americans to stand a chance of qualification through drawing of lots.

Slovenia - the current Group C leaders - will qualify if they draw against England and a place in the last 16 would be considered a breakthrough achievement for a country with a population of only two million people, compared to England's 52 million.

It is better for players to express their feelings, as Terry did. I still believe they will qualify...

"On paper, we're massive favourites," added Gerrard. "They're a small nation compared to us but every game in this World Cup, as has been proven, is difficult.

"We've stopped doing the things we're good at. We watched the game with Algeria in the team meeting, without anyone talking, and it was clear to see we weren't aggressive enough."

Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek has warned his players not to be taken in by England's poor World Cup form ahead of the Group C showdown.

"Playing against England is always a challenge," he said. "It is also filled with huge expectations but please do not believe that we feel better because England might not have played so well so far.

"We will play as we have been. We will try to do our best - we will try not to make mistakes."

England manager Fabio Capello

Capello predicts Rooney will hit form

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see also
Alan Shearer on England
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Capello backs 'important' Terry
22 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup qualifying permutations
24 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
How England can qualify
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England boosted by Carrick return
22 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Terry sorry for England criticism
22 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Terry 'mistake' irritates Capello
21 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Slovenia boss still rates England
22 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team guide: Slovenia
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Upson to start against Slovenia
21 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Capello 'to quit if England exit'
20 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010