John Terry is set to lead England into battle against Bulgaria today despite admitting a number of younger players are pushing to take his place in the side.
Phil Jones in particular is talked of a potential successor to Terry, with the place of Rio Ferdinand, the Chelsea skipper’s regular partner in the centre of England’s defence, also under threat.
Indeed, Jones has been deputising for Ferdinand in training as his club-mate is missing due to injury, although Gary Cahill is expected to line up alongside Terry this evening.
“Jones is the one that really sticks out in our position and he’s one I’m looking over my shoulder at because clearly he wants a place in the England side, whether that is at the expense of myself or somebody else,” Terry confirmed, adding that the places of a number of other more established England players were also under threat.
Regardless of who plays in central defence, England look good to keep a clean sheet at odds of 11/10 given Bulgaria have scored just twice in their last four matches.
The away side will also miss the presence of Dimitar Berbatov, with the Manchester United striker having retired from international football.
A successful £25 free bet on England to keep a clean sheet, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £52.50.
Elsewhere for England, Chris Smalling looks set to play at right-back in place of the injured Glen Johnson while there are doubts over the involvement of Darren Bent after the Villa striker picked up a groin complaint in training.
Bent’s absence could give an opportunity to Andy Carroll or Jermain Defoe, while another option could be to play Wayne Rooney in a more advanced role with Ashley Young playing as a withdrawn striker.
Bulgaria have no major absentees but given coach Lothar Matthaus’ admission that the players at his disposal are nowhere near the quality of England’s, a home victory seems unlikely.
A win for Bulgaria is priced at 4/1, with a draw at 27/10 and an England success at 67/100.
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