Germany v England – a crucial fixture or a pointless exercise?

Football FanCast
columnist
Phil Tomlinson looks ahead to England's date with Germany
on Wednesday.

It's a question which has been posed to numerous Premier
League managers this last week as England prepare to face Germany in a friendly
on Wednesday.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has questioned the
wisdom of the meaningless clash in Berlin which has been crow barred in between
crucial Premier League fixtures. Aston Villa chief Martin O'Neill is also of
the belief that the friendly tussle is more of a hindrance than a help to his
called-up stars, the football
odds
compilers are wary, while Sir Alex Ferguson has voiced his concerns
over young striker Danny Welbeck.

The starlet, who scored for United in the 5-0 win over
Stoke, immediately joined up with the England Under-19s for their friendly with
their German counterparts despite the fact that he has only recently returned
from an injury lay-off.

Senior United stars Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney have
withdrawn from the 23-man senior party through injuries, while Steven Gerrard
will also miss out and John Terry is likely to follow suit.

It remains to be seen how many of those players would have
pulled out had the Germany match been a competitive qualifier.

However for England chief Fabio Capello it is a crucial fixture
for him to see who might or might not be able to play their way into the squad
for the World Cup finals in 2010.

There's no doubt that England's line-up in the German
capital in midweek will be youthful and far from Capello's first choice XI. But
if Ashley Young or Gabriel Agbonlahor comes on as a sub in Johannesburg in the
World Cup final and fires England to glory in 2010 then Capello might just
point to the friendly in Berlin as the game when he was convinced to put his
faith in some of his youngsters.

Still I'm sure the game won't be looked upon as 'crucial' by
Luiz Felipe Scolari if Frank Lampard limps off in midweek and is ruled out of
Chelsea's next few games.

Roll on Wednesday night.