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Algeria vs. England

It's been a seemingly interminable wait for England to get back on the pitch since goalkeeper Robert Green's catastrophic gaffe likely cost his team a victory in its World Cup opener.

Algeria - particularly keeper Fawzi Chaouchi - can relate.

Chaouchi's late blunder has the Desert Foxes alone at the bottom of Group C, and heavily favored England can send Algeria home by picking up three critical points Friday in Cape Town.

Goalkeeping was thought to be one of the Three Lions' few issues as they arrived in South Africa, and not having a clear No. 1 didn't take long to negatively effect coach Fabio Capello's squad.

Green's brutal mishandling of Clint Dempsey's shot in the 40th minute Saturday against the United States evened the match at 1-all, and with no further scoring, ultimately cost England a pair of extra points.

"I think it's one of them freak things," said captain Steven Gerrard, who scored in the 4th minute. "I don't think you can criticize the goalkeeper. They've been talking about the ball. I think he'll make some important saves for us. We're all behind him."

Green isn't the only Group C keeper to have had an issue with the new World Cup ball, which has been harshly criticized for its unpredictable movements. Algerian substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off in the 73rd minute Sunday against Slovenia, and six minutes later Chaouchi misjudged a long-range shot that bounced off his arm and in for the game's only goal.

"Everyone saw what happened with the ball, and what happened with England's goalkeeper," coach Rabah Saadane said. "You have to adjust to the flight of the ball."

Saadane had said he'd stick with Chaouchi, but the 25-year-old is in doubt to face the Three Lions after sitting out training Wednesday with a sprained knee.

Capello, meanwhile, plans on waiting until just prior to England's first-ever meeting with Algeria to announce whether he'll stick with Green or turn the reins over to veteran David James or young Joe Hart.

England will, however, welcome the return of midfielder Gareth Barry, who's been sidelined since damaging ligaments in his right ankle May 5 while playing for Manchester City.

"He showed in qualifying how good he is," defender Jamie Carragher said. "We've not got too many like that, so he's obviously done a good job for England."

Barry's return should free up Gerrard to take a more attacking spot on the left flank, splitting the captain's ineffective partnership with Frank Lampard. Pushing Gerrard wide should enable better service up to striker Wayne Rooney, who against the United States failed to score for a sixth straight game.

"I'd like to score, but if I'm not scoring I'll keep working until I do," said Rooney, who has 25 goals in 61 international matches. "... For us to do well, I need to play better than I did and to score goals, but I don't feel under extra pressure."

 
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