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Jon Riley 16th Nov 2010 - 17:02

Will England draw another Blanc?

Fabio Capello will name an experimental team for Wednesday's friendly at Wembley against fellow World Cup flops France.

The Italian has resisted the temptation to play it safe with his squad selection and instead the likes of powerhouse striker Andy Carroll, Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson and Arsenal's promising attacking full back Kieran Gibbs will make their senior International debuts.

The bench for this tie will also contain several unfamiliar names with Jay Bothroyd of Championship club Cardiff City called up after an outstanding start to the campaign. Bothroyd is hoping to be the first player from the English second tier to score for his country since David Nugent against Andorra in 2007.

Carroll's inclusion has somewhat split the opinions of experts and fans alike. His selection has attracted some criticism because of the player's off-field problems that have twice seen him in court on assault charges. Capello has no doubt about the player's ability but conceded the Newcastle striker, who has recovered from a groin problem, must sort out his private life. "He's a good player and I think he will understand, to stay with the senior [squad] will be really important for him because all the people, the newspapers, journalists will be focused on his life. He'll improve."

One man who has championed Carroll's cause is Alan Shearer. The former England and Newcastle number nine managed Carroll during his brief tenure as Magpies Head Coach and believes that the young Geordie can bring something different to the England team. "Who is playing better than him?" asked Newcastle legend Shearer. "Nobody. Who is scoring more goals than him? Nobody. The guy in form is Carroll."

The match may also be useful to new France coach Laurent Blanc. The Les Bleus legend is a former captain and World Cup winner for his beloved France. The former Manchester United defender is trying to remould a side in his own style after inheriting a side devoid of confidence, cohesion and world class players.

Ahead of this game Blanc has reluctantly admitted that only Florent Malouda and Franck Ribery can be bracketed as world class while telling Samir Nasri that he is on the way to getting there.

The shambles that faced Blanc after the Domenech debacle meant he had to begin life as France Head Coach without a number of top players with Nicolas Anelka, Franck Ribery and Patrice Evra banned by the French Football Federation for their mutiny in South Africa.

Competitive Matches
England have a W3, D2, L2 record

Friendly matches
England have a W13, D2, L5 record

Last 5 head to head
2008 - France 1, England 0 (Friendly)
2004 - England 1, France 2 (European Championships)
2000 - France 1, England 1 (Friendly)
1999 - England 0, France 2 (Friendly)
1997 - France 0, England 1 (Le Tournoi)

The betting for this match sees Cappello's kids installed as 6/5 favourites as opposed to Blanc's new look France who are priced at 12/5. A draw in this friendly can be backed at 11/5. With both teams in such a fragile state at the minute, a draw would probably appease both sets of fans and suffice for the managers in the rebuilding process.

The last time France visited these shores for a friendly encounter the then recently crowned world champions defeated England by 2 goals to nil. Nicolas Anelka's brace being enough to see off a Three Lions team managed by Howard Wilkinson. For a repeat scoreline eleven years on you can get a price of 16/1.

England's last victory against their Gallic foe was in Montpellier during Le Tournoi. Alan Shearer's late goal meant that Glenn Hoddle's men won the tournament with a game to spare. For a 1-0 England win in 2011 you can get on at 11/2.

The first scorer market for Wednesday's match is an intriguing one. Andy Carroll is 11/2 to open the scoring and 6/4 to notch anytime while Cardiff's Jay Bothroyd can be backed in the same markets at 13/2 and 15/8.

The more established England stars Steven Gerrard (11/2 first scorer, 6/4 anytime) should be involved at some point to help out the younger players settle in. Peter Crouch (6/1, 7/4) and Carlton Cole (6/1, 7/4) will be looking to get on the scoresheet against a French defence that could contain Crouch's Tottenham team mate Younis Kaboul.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema is 6/1 to open the scoring for Les Bleus while the likes of Loic Remy (13/2), Guillaume Hoarau 7/1), Kevin Gameiro (7/1) and Florent Malouda (8/1) will attempt to breach the English defence and find the back of the net first. A goal in this game would equal the entire total f France's depressing World Cup campaign in South Africa. A stat that only highlights the dire straits the team were in upon Blanc's arrival.

My prediction for this game is for a low scoring affair with possibly only one goal deciding the match. I would back the under 2.5 goals market at 8/15 and for something a little more speculative I'd go for Theo Walcott to score first and England to win 1-0 at 33/1.



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