I'm fast enough for the job – Upson

MATTHEW Upson believes he has the necessary pace to get to the head of the queue of England centre-halves hoping to be John Terry's partner in Cape Town on Friday.

With captain Rio Ferdinand watching events unfold from back home and Ledley King sidelined by a groin strain which will rule him out for three weeks, coach Fabio Capello needs a new central defender for the crucial encounter with Algeria.

Jamie Carragher appears to be first in line but he had a torrid time against the USA following his introduction as a second-half substitute and was excruciatingly outpaced by one burst from Jozy Altidore.

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Upson said: "I am deceptive. I might not look as if I am that quick, but I can cover the ground and pace is a big part of modern football."

Not that West Ham defender Upson feels Carragher is incapable of dealing with fast players.

The 31-year-old accepts his rival has all the experience that would be expected of someone who has played at the highest level throughout his career.

Nine starts in 15 matches prior to Carragher being hauled out of retirement suggested Upson was the first-choice should anything happen to Ferdinand.

Now he is faced with the prospect of not even being the replacement for Ferdinand's replacement.

He continued: "It is disappointing because I want to play. It was an objective for me to be here and I achieved that. While I am here I want to play as much as I can.

"I do feel very happy with my international contribution under Fabio Capello but these are his decisions, which I am willing to accept because we are here to win something as a group."

As Michael Dawson is not a speed merchant either, Upson joked that the answer might be to organise a race between the three possible stand-ins, with the winner getting a starting slot.

"I used to be the quickest but we haven't had a race. Perhaps we should. That might help me," he laughed, on a visit to an SOS Village in Rustenburg, to see a group of young children, many of whom are orphans.

Although aspects of England's performance were positive at the weekend, with Gareth Barry returning from injury on Friday to release captain Steven Gerrard into a more offensive position, there is certainly an argument for the Three Lions to go back to basics, which would herald Upson's return.

Not that it would meet with the approval of German legend Franz Beckenbauer, who launched a stinging attack on the "kick and rush" tactics he felt England employed against the United States.

Upson said: "You can talk as much as you want. It's all down to what happens on the pitch.

"I don't care about our style of football. Whatever wins us something will do for me.

"We want to be as entertaining as possible and we have been working hard on trying to be more possession-minded.

"But we come from a league which has such a big transition in possession compared to other leagues. That is the environment we are used to playing in."

England also come from an environment where they come under intense scrutiny every time they go onto the field.

It means Upson's West Ham team-mate Robert Green has been big news on the front pages and back following his blunder against the USA which robbed England of victory.

"Robert has been exceptional," added Upson. "Everyone can see the mistake. I can't remember him making one like that before but it's happened.

"The only response is to get your concrete head. He is tough. He is a big boy. He will accept all the hounding.

"He is desperate to play on Friday. He doesn't want to hide.

"Those incidents have happened before and the rest of the game has been a write-off. That wasn't the case on Saturday.

"But it does makes you realise how big England is. You can't really explain.

"It was such a small incident yet it is a huge story. Okay, it was a mistake. It happens. We are human.

"To have it drag on and on is over the top."