Rooney lined up as captain, and Ashton could help ease his load

Wayne Rooney is in line to be England captain for the friendly against the United States in May as Fabio Capello contemplates calling up Dean Ashton to solve his striker crisis.

Capello believes Rooney, 22, is the country's only world-class talent but wants more from the Manchester United striker and is prepared to make him England's third-youngest captain after Bobby Moore and Michael Owen to achieve it.

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Rooney: leading light

Capello also wants to beef up England's attack and Ashton, who is finally returning to form with West Ham, will be closely monitored.

Ashton came to Capello's attention with goals against Blackburn and Everton last weekend. He was picked for the first time under Steve McClaren but missed the chance to make his debut when he broke his ankle before the 4-0 win over Greece in August 2006.

Although Capello is convinced Steven Gerrard can play in the hole behind Rooney, he will adopt a more attacking strategy against the USA.

Capello will not abandon the system he used in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat against France but wants England to be able to adopt several different formations as they gear up for the World Cup qualifiers.

While Ashton is in contention for a call-up, Peter Crouch has also impressed the England regime and remains a potential partner for Rooney in any tactical switch.

Theo Walcott had been earmarked to start alongside Rooney in Paris but his chance was lost when he made only a brief appearance from the bench during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last Sunday.

Capello is desperate to find a right back after another poor performance from Wes Brown in the Stade de France. Glen Johnson, who has been so consistent for Portsmouth, also disappointed the Italian.

Capello has noticed a difference in attitude between players from different clubs.

Gerrard arrived at the team hotel last Sunday in a foul mood after Liverpool's loss to Manchester United and the coaching staff were delighted by his excellent response in training the following day.

Rooney, who had torn Liverpool apart, also showed that he was willing to take on new ideas.

But questions are forming over the attitude of some others. David Bentley was especially upset when he learned his place had gone to David Beckham.

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