EXCLUSIVE: Rooney lined up as England captain, and Ashton could help ease his load up front

EXCLUSIVE by NEIL ASHTON

Last updated at 12:59 28 March 2008


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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Wayne Rooney

Captaincy material: Capello said he believes Wayne Rooney has the right attributes to lead England in the future

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.

ashton

Striking solution: Ashton is being tipped to give Rooney much-needed support

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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