Gerrard out of final qualifier

LONDON: Steven Gerrard has been ruled out of England's final World Cup qualifier, against Belarus on Wednesday, with a groin injury.

The Liverpool captain suffered the the injury during Saturday's 1-0 defeat in Ukraine and was unable to complete a training session with the rest of the squad on the eve of the match.

England boss Fabio Capello said: "He didn't finish training because the pain was the same as yesterday (Monday). He's going back to Liverpool."

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James is also a doubt for the Wembley match after missing training with a knee problem. Capello said he would decide on whether James could play on Wednesday.

West Ham's Robert Green started in goal in the Ukraine but is suspended after being sent off in what was England's first competitive defeat under Capello, meaning Joe Hart or Ben Foster would start if James is sidelined.

"James had some problems with his knee," Capello said. "He's getting better, he'll stay with us and we'll decide on Wednesday.

"I will speak with him then. The other players are fit. There are some little problems but not so big to be a problem."

Gerrard's absence means Capello is without two of his key creative stars as Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney withdrew on Sunday with a calf injury.

Capello is taking the positive view that he can now test out the rest of his squad, with Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor widely expected to start alongside Tottenham's Peter Crouch. He will also experiment with slightly different tactics.

"Rooney is a very important player for us and also for United but the result is we'll play a different style, with some different players and it will be a very interesting game for me," Capello said.

"I will know some players better. I have big confidence in all the players. Rooney is important because his style is the style I like in my team, but we have other important players.

"We can win with Rooney and without Rooney. It's possible you'll be surprised (by the team).

"There is no guarantee of places and we won't always play the same style. You can change style always. We need style, B and C depending on the type of game and the country we are playing."

The turning point in Saturday's defeat was a mistake by Rio Ferdinand, who allowed a long pass to bounce past him, leaving Robert Green to concede the penalty that led to his dismissal.

Ferdinand also made an error that led to a goal in the August friendly against Holland and Capello admitted he has spoken to the Manchester United centre-back about his performance.

"I spoke with some players, I spoke with Rio this morning (Tuesday). I will speak also with some other players," he said.

"We will see a DVD of the game to understand what really happened and after I will explain the mistakes.

"But Rio will play (against Belarus). I have big confidence in Rio, he needs to play and I'm sure that Rio will get better every game."

With qualification already secured, Capello is relatively unconcerned by the result on Wednesday. Instead he will focus on how his players adapt to the change in tactics.

"I think the games in March and May will be more important to arrive at the World Cup with good morale," he said.