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Depleted England face battle in Berlin

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    England (5/2) are out to avenge their 2-1 defeat inflicted by Germany (11/10) at Wembley last year by winning tonight’s (Wednesday, November 19th) international friendly in Berlin.

    But Fabio Capello’s side face an uphill struggle as all but two of their frontline stars are out injured.

    After Manchester United confirmed that Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney would not be fit to join the squad, key midfield duo Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard both dropped out with knocks sustained while playing for their clubs at the weekend.

    Add to that Germany’s impressive recent home record, which is 100 per cent intact so far in their South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign, and the toughness of the task facing their 1966 World Cup final opponents becomes clear.

    One man who could seize the opportunity to stake his claim for a first team spot is Manchester United’s midfielder Michael Carrick.

    Almost ever-present in the Red Devils’ European and domestic-conquering campaign last season, Carrick – 16/1 to score first after netting against Stoke City at the weekend – is excited at the prospect of playing against one of England’s oldest rivals.

    He commented: “We are playing for England and that is the stuff of dreams. If you ask any player if they want to play in England against Germany they will tell you it is a massive game.”

    Meanwhile, England will field a second string strike force, after injuries to Rooney, Emile Heskey, Theo Walcott and with Michael Owen still lacking match fitness.

    As a consequence, Capello is likely to opt for Jermain Defoe up front, partnered by either his Portsmouth team-mate Peter Crouch, or in-form Spurs hitman Darren Bent.

    Defoe is 7/1 to make the first goal of the game his seventh in an England shirt, with Crouch and Bent priced at 8/1.

    Considering the Germans are set to put out a strong team featuring the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose, under-par England may be happy to earn a draw against a team which beat Euro 2008 semi-finalists Russia 2-1 in Dortmund last month – this result is available at 23/10.

    Another mouth-watering fixture will be held at Hampden Park where Scotland (9/2) host South American giants Argentina (4/6).

    The anticipation ahead of the game has been heightened by the fact that new manager Diego Maradona will be taking charge of his side for the first time.

    Like England, Scotland have been beset by injuries with important players such as Kenny Miller and Darren Fletcher pulling out of the squad.

    However, there will still be plenty of individuals desperate to put in an impressive showing with the world watching Maradona’s managerial debut.

    Birmingham City’s James McFadden, with three league goals to his name this season, is 9/1 to break the deadlock, while Chris Iwelumo is 10/1 to banish memories of his recent horror miss in World Cup qualifying against Norway by grabbing the opener.

    Will Capello’s men enjoy their German jaunt?

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