Eriksson to feature first team in warm-ups

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will prepare for the World Cup without Wayne Rooney by playing his first-choice lineup in two friendlies next week.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will prepare for a World Cup without Wayne Rooney by playing his first-choice lineup in two friendlies. England plays Hungary on Tuesday and Jamaica on June 3 at Old Trafford in Manchester, with Peter Crouch partnering Michael Owen up front. "We need to start the best team, the team we think will start the World Cup, in both games," Eriksson said. Rooney had another scan on his broken right foot on Thursday and the earliest he is likely to be available at the tournament is the round of 16 on June 24 or 25. Key striker England and Rooney leave for Germany on June 5. England plays Paraguay on June 10, Trinidad and Tobago on June 15, and Sweden on June 20. Without Rooney, Owen will be England's key striker. The 26-year-old Newcastle forward is going to his third World Cup. He has scored 35 goals in 75 games to be fourth on England's all-time goalscoring list. Owen has played only four times with Crouch, a 6-foot-7 (2.0-meter) Liverpool striker who has five caps - including two starts - and who has never played a competitive match for England. The pair teamed up for an hour in an unofficial 'B' international against Belarus on Thursday - the first time Owen had started a game since breaking his foot on December 31. Previously, he'd only played 30 minutes as a substitute this year. Fringe players Eriksson fielded several fringe squad players against Belarus and also gave 90 minutes to defenders Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, who have had limited playing time this year because of injury. Campbell has lost his place in central defense to Chelsea's John Terry, but Cole will start at left back against Hungary and Jamaica. Eriksson said he was impressed with the two teenage rookies who played Thursday - 19-year-old midfielder Aaron Lennon and 17-year-old striker Theo Walcott - but said they weren't likely to start. Both are slight and speedy players, but Walcott has yet to play for his club Arsenal and Lennon has the problem of playing in right midfield - David Beckham's position. Lennon was often fouled against Belarus - Sergei Omelyanchuyk was sent off in the 75th minute with two yellow cards in two minutes for fouls against him. England: Paul Robinson, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Owen, Peter Crouch. (AP)

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