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Home » Sport » Football

World Cup 2010: New-look England ready for action

Captain Steven Gerrard has vowed that England will adopt a "do-or-die" mentality as they bid to avoid crashing out of the World Cup on Wednesday.

Fabio Capello's stuttering team must beat Slovenia to guarantee a place in the last-16 knockout stage.

"It is a do-or-die situation," conceded Liverpool midfielder Gerrard, 30.

BBC Sport understands that Emile Heskey is likely to be replaced by Jermain Defoe up front with James Milner coming in for Aaron Lennon on the right-wing.

West Ham's Matthew Upson will also replace suspended centre-back Jamie Carragher.

The nation's footballers have not failed to qualify for the knockout stages of a World Cup since 1958, but their ongoing participation in the 2010 event now hangs in the balance after an opening 1-1 draw with the United States was followed by a 0-0 stalemate with Algeria.

Controversy has dogged the England camp since the final whistle of that drab encounter on Friday.

As he walked off the pitch, Wayne Rooney criticised some England fans for booing the team while Capello said deposed captain John Terry made a "big mistake" after giving a press conference in which he appeared to question the Italian's training and tactics.

Following their struggles on the pitch, Capello identified the fierce glare of the spotlight his players are under as a potential reason for their individual and collective below-par performances - a point that Gerrard recognises ahead of the crucial Slovenia match.

"It would be an absolute disaster for this group of players to go home after the group stages," he stated. "The key is to try and live without fear.

"There is pressure and fear. But the fear of not winning drives you on. We've come here to stay in this tournament to the end. We need to perform, we need to improve on the last performance.

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