England's old song could have new chorus

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Before every major tournament England's refrain is the same: we really can win it this time.

To update the words of the Euro 96 anthem, England have now suffered "44 years of hurt" since winning their only major honor, the World Cup in 1966.

However, a superb qualifying campaign, the prodigious form of Wayne Rooney and the weather in wintry South Africa have given England hope of becoming world champions again.

Manager Fabio Capello, who succeeded Steve McClaren after the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, has given England back their self-belief while keeping the talented nucleus of the side that came up short two years ago.

Injuries to important players such as Glen Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Rio Ferdinand, Cole and Gareth Barry have added to his problems while David Beckham's absence because of a ruptured Achilles tendon has deprived him of the former captain's unique qualities.

Despite those setbacks England's prospects remain good if Rooney can carry his domestic form into the finals. Rooney scored 34 goals in all competitions for Manchester United before niggling injuries affected the end of his season.

Capello's likely starting lineup will have Robert Green in goal, behind a back four of right-back Glen Johnson, center-backs Ferdinand and Terry with Cole on the left.

In a four-man midfield, Steven Gerrard will start on the left with Barry, if he recovers from an ankle injury, and Frank Lampard across the middle and either Shaun Wright-Phillips, Lennon or Theo Walcott on the right.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)