Ferdinand to miss England opener

Andorra v England Venue: Olympic Stadium, Barcelona Date: Saturday, 6 September Kick-off: 1900 BST Coverage: Live on Setanta Sports 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live on AM, digital and via the BBC Sport website

Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand missed out on the England captaincy to John Terry

Rio Ferdinand will miss England’s opening World Cup qualifier against Andorra on Saturday.

The Manchester United defender has a back injury but manager Fabio Capello expects him to be fit for the key game against Croatia on Wednesday.

Joleon Lescott, Wes Brown or Matthew Upson could step in to partner skipper John Terry in central defence.

Chelsea midfielders Frank Lampard and Joe Cole are both likely to shake off minor knocks.

England are expected to get their qualification campaign off to a winning start against the Group Six minnows in Barcelona on Saturday, Capello’s first competitive game as manager.

Ferdinand absence a ‘big blow’ – Terry

In the absence of injured midfielders Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves, Fulham’s Jimmy Bullard is pushing to make his international debut at the Olympic Stadium, although Gareth Barry seems more likely to play alongside Lampard.

Some newspaper reports on Friday claimed Arsenal youngster Theo Walcott could make a surprise start with David Beckham being saved for the match against Croatia.

The last time England played Andorra at the Olympic Stadium, in March 2007, a goalless first half led to a torrent of verbal abuse being directed at then England boss Steve McClaren.

BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty with the England team in Barcelona

England eventually won 3-0 in far from convincing fashion, and Wayne Rooney had to be substituted for fear he would get a second yellow card.

“The players who were there will have learnt from that experience. It was hostile,” said Barry, who was a non-playing substitute that day, but is expected to partner Lampard in midfield on Saturday.

Andorra go into the match seeking damage limitation after suffering a miserable Euro 2008 qualifying campaign in which they lost all 12 of their games, scoring two goals and conceding 42.

Coach David Rodrigo, who has been in his post since 1999, had a bad start to his campaign in Kazakhstan two weeks ago, when they lost 3-0 in Almaty, conceding three first-half goals.

Andorra (probable): Koldo; Jordi Escura, Toni Lima, Ildefons Lima, Oscar Sonejee; Marcio Vieira, Marc Vales, Josep Ayala, Marc Pujol, Xavi Andorra; Fernando Silva.

England squad: Paul Robinson, David James, Robert Green, Wes Brown, Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge, Ashley Cole, John Terry (capt), Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott, Matthew Upson, Gareth Barry, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Jimmy Bullard, David Beckham, Stewart Downing, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey.

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