Fabio Capello defended his decision not to name his goalkeeper until a couple of hours before kick-off after seeing Robert Green make a howler in the 1-1 draw against the USA in England's opening FIFA World Cup™ encounter.
Green fumbled a 25-yard shot from Clint Dempsey and watched the ball spin behind him and trickle agonisingly over the line. It stopped England in their tracks after they had got off to the best possible start with a goal from captain Steven Gerrard in the fourth minute.
And there was more bad news for England when Capello revealed that Ledley King had been substituted at half-time for Liverpool's Jamie Carragher because the Tottenham Hotspur defender has an abductor injury which will keep him out of Friday's game against Algeria.
Capello, however, insisted his decision to keep his goalkeepers guessing until two hours before kick off at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium was not a mistake.
"No, absolutely not," he said. "I decided Green would be the goalkeeper because he played the last game very well and at Wembley (against Mexico) the performance was very good too. He made one mistake, but in the second half he made a good save. This is the problem of the goalkeeper. We have to accept the mistakes of goalkeepers and of referees and of forwards. This is football."
Capello, however, refused to say whether he would stand by Green against Algeria, saying: "We have time to decide and to speak with him and I will decide."
The England manager also substituted James Milner after half an hour, bringing on Shaun Wright-Phillips, explaining that he was worried the Aston Villa midfielder would get sent off after receiving an early yellow card.
But Capello insisted: "We played a good match and created a lot of chances. But the result is not okay for us. We played better than USA but the USA are very good. I saw the spirit of England and the team. They fight every time to win back the ball.
"I am not worried for the next game about their physical condition. We ran better in the second half than the USA. But now we have to look forward for the next game."
They will have to do so without King whose injury-prone body was always a gamble for Capello. On Wayne Rooney's performance, Capello said: "I think his movement was good. He shot once very well and his movement was very important."
On being caught cold by Gerrard's early opener, Howard, who was involved in a heavy challenge with Emile Heskey in the first half, said: "We weren't sharp early on especially with the goal. The marking was too lax, but you can't dwell on it with 90 minutes to play. It deflated us but we responded well and when we calmed down and got in the flow of the game we did well.
"It was backs to the wall. It wasn't pretty but I am happy overall. We're glad it's over. There's been a lot of hype and pressure. I'm just glad we put in a performance we can be proud of."
USA coach Bob Bradley said: "It was important for us to take a point. The reponse from the team was strong and there are good things we can take away from the match. There was a big battle in midfield and I felt ours as a whole did a good job. It was a fast, hard game and we were pleased at how we competed with England."
On Gerrard's goal he added: "There was a big hole in our back line. England made us pay but it forced us to get ourselves going very quickly. It was a good team effort defensively. Wayne Rooney is a good mobile player. Our back line was a bit out of sync in the first half but we got better in the second. We had a good focus all the time. We came away with positives to get ready against Slovenia."