Upson’s hoping for a starting role

FOOTBALL: FORMER Diss High School pupil Matthew Upson is hoping to have done enough to get the nod to partner John Terry at the heart of England’s defence in their World Cup opener tomorrow.

Upson’s chances of featuring for the Three Lions in South Africa have been boosted by the withdrawal of captain Rio Ferdinand.

England’s skipper was forced to give up his World Cup dream after sustaining a knee injury, with Tottenham defender Michael Dawson being drafted in as his replacement.

Former Diss Youth player Upson has been a maintstay of the England chief’s squads, starting his first game in charge, often covering for Ferdinand during his injury problems in qualifying.

But pundits believe Ledley King, whose training has to be restricted due to chronic knee pain, will start alongside Terry at the back for England against the USA on Saturday, with Upson on the bench.

The West Ham defender, who was born in Eye, suffered a head wound in the training camp ahead of the tournament and then had a second scare when he had to sit out a session after developing a fever.

But he was deemed fit enough to play the second half of the last warm-up game against South African-side Platinum All-Stars on Monday and looked to catch Capello’s eye ahead of the Group C opener.