Wayne Rooney will be looking to be back among the goals in Wembley encounter.
Coach Fabio Capello says the pressure he faces at the start of England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign is nothing new and it will inspire him to do better.
Despite talk of a new era post-World Cup his team to face Bulgaria on Friday is likely to show just three changes from the XI beaten 4-1 by Germany.
Joe Hart replaces David James in goal and Phil Jagielka and Theo Walcott are in for John Terry and Frank Lampard.
“I hope pressure brings out the best in me. Up to now it usually has,” he said.
“It’s not the worst situation I’ve been in. It’s been the same two or three times, in Madrid, Milan, and now.”
Former Real Madrid and Milan coach Capello’s reputation took a major knock following England’s dismal display at the World Cup, where a faltering campaign came to a premature end as the team were outclassed by Germany in the last 16.
Since then England have played just one friendly, a 2-1 win over Hungary, and they will be keen to make a fresh start when they return to competitive action in Friday’s game against Bulgaria at Wembley.
That match is followed by an away tie in Switzerland next Tuesday, and Capello knows a good return of points is as important for him personally as it is for the team.
But he was unflinching in his response to the reporters who he believes are responsible for building up and knocking down reputations.
Despite the likely starting XI not showing too many changes from the summer, the squad overall is much changed from the one that disappointed in South Africa.
David James and Ledley King have been discarded, while Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher has announced his international retirement for the second time.
Capello is also without Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, who was left out against Hungary and is thought to be missing this time because of an ankle injury, with goalkeepers Robert Green and Scott Carson and striker Peter Crouch also unavailable.
But Capello said he was encouraged by Wayne Rooney’s return to goalscoring form, after watching him end a five-month wait for a goal with a penalty against West Ham last weekend, and expected him to lift the team. (BBC Sport)
Bulgaria will offer Fabio Capello a stern test in their opening Euro 2012 qualifier and even though the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry are absent the England boss will still be confident of clinching a win in this first of a two game double header.
A trip to Switzerland follows on Tuesday night and Capello knows how important it is to get off to a flyer, especially after such a poor World Cup showing. Theo Walcott will hope to continue his recent good club form after netting four goals in his opening three Arsenal matches.
Bulgaria have a number of top notch performers in their armoury even though Man United striker Dimitar Berbatov has retired from international football the likes of Stiliyan Petrov and Martin Petrov are experienced campaigners in an ageing squad that may be ready for one last hurrah.
Stanimir Stoilov’s side could be a hard nut to crack. During their World Cup qualifiers they suffered just two defeats in ten games and held Italy to a draw but did also suffer an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of Cyprus.
Highlights of England’s recent friendly with Hungary