Wednesday night sees England’s Euro 2008 starved squad take on a plucky USA side who are unbeaten in 2008.
After the national side’s dismal failure to reach the final tournament in Austria and Switzerland that starts in June, the FA has seen to it that new boss Fabio Capello can give his players a run out before they swan off to a beach for two months (although with a friendly match organized against Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean on Sunday, the beach may already be too close to ignore).
Capello has been able to round up his troops for 10 days prior to Wednesday’s fixture and should be able to field a strong side.
He has already handed the captain’s armband to John Terry which will serve as a nice little pick me up after his slip in the Champion's League Final shootout last week.
Dean Ashton, providing he wraps himself in cotton wool for the next couple of days, should line up in attack against his West Ham teammate John Spector. The former Manchester United flop has put in some dogged displays for the Hammers this season and will have his work cut out against a player that will be out to prove not only his fitness, but his international credentials.
Frank Lampard is likely to start in the middle for England and will be hoping to continue his spell of good form after what has been a tragic month. Only time will tell if the Chelsea man can fight off the allergic reaction he seems to suffer when pulling on the England shirt, which affects his vision, his coordination and his ability to work with others.
Other players in need of a large dose of antihistamine for their England-itus are Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.
The two scouse chums have had wonderful seasons linking up with their respective Iberian foils Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo, but have continued to serve up a load of old rubbish when linking up with each other in the national team.
Facing off against Gerrard in the US midfield will be Michael Bradley.
While those of a conspiratorial nature will point cynically at the nepotistic ties to his father and first team coach Bob Bradley, the SC Heerenveen midfielder has been in fine form this season scoring a hat full of goals for the Dutch club.
Pitting his wits against the likes of Gerrard, Lampard and Owen Hargreaves will be a good test for the young midfielder, who has attracted Premier League attention.
As friendlies go this is as run of the mill as you can get and aside from the chance to nip down the boozer for a midweek pint and a game of footy, excitement is likely to be at a minimum.
One surprise that has reared its head, however, is the inclusion of Joe Lewis as stand in for injured goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. The Peterborough United (League Two runners-up) keeper has been given the nod ahead of several Premier League stoppers, most notably West Ham’s Robert Green.
Green’s absences from all of Capello’s squads to date, despite a dazzling season between the sticks for his club, are a surprise to all.
While no stories of Green sleeping with Capello’s wife and urinating on the Italian flag have hit the press, these can be the only explanations for the big man’s further demotion below a League Two player in England’s custodial pecking order.
The visitors will have several familiar faces in their ranks, with eight players currently plying their trade in the English leagues.
It doesn’t bode well, however, that Derby County’s Benny Feilhaber and Eddie Lewis and Fulham’s Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey have spent their seasons battling against relegation. Three more of the squad's players are also currently without a club.
On the plus side, Everton’s stalwart goalkeeper Tim Howard, who helped steer his side to a fifth placed "best of the rest" finish, will be between the posts and perhaps we may see the abilities (at last) of a certain Freddy Adu.
For fans of "Championship/Football Manager," Adu’s talents were much sort after and it would be interesting to see him in the flesh—although he is only at 89% fitness, he is homesick and his morale is low*.
So what can we expect in Capello's third outing as England boss?
With the USA ten places below their transatlantic cousins in the FIFA rankings, a win will be a lot to ask in their 11th game against the Three Lions.
The last time the sides met—in Chicago almost exactly three years ago—two Kieron Richardson goals, on his debut, put the hosts to the sword in a 2-1 win.
With the talent England have throughout the side, a similar and perhaps more comfortable outcome is likely, as long as they turn up on the night.
Capello will be hoping that his side shows infinitely more attacking guile than their last outing against France in February in their lifeless 1-0 defeat.
Bob Bradley will be looking at his players to repeat the feat of the Alexi Lalas inspired US team that beat Graham Taylor's men 2-0 15 years ago.
With Landon Donovan picking up his 100th cap and a host of English based players in the side, the Hollywood script writers will be hoping for a blockbuster.
To be honest, given the state of England's play these days, it's fair to say that like the US, most of the country just doesn't give a monkey's.
*For those who haven't played Championship/Football Manager, this will no doubt, have soared over your heads.
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