RUSTENBURG, South Africa — As England’s players rallied around Robert Green, Fabio Capello was contemplating whether to drop the goalkeeper who cost them a win against the United States in their World Cup opener.
Green fumbled Clint Dempsey’s low 25-meter shot into the goal, leaving England with one point heading into Friday’s second Group C match against Algeria.
“We have time to decide and to speak with (Green) and I will decide,” Capello said.
“We must think about this problem psychologically,” he added. “Goalkeepers make mistakes. This is part of football. You have to accept that . . . in the second-half he played very well and made a really important save, but a mistake remains a mistake.”
England’s first rest day since arriving in South Africa turned out to be a day for agonizing for Green, but he had already maintained the blunder wouldn’t affect him psychologically.
“I’m 30, I’m a man, and you have hardships in life and prepare for them,” Green said Saturday night. “I’m strong enough to move on. At a younger point in my life it would have affected me more.”
David James, the squad’s veteran goalkeeper who has been struggling with knee problems since arriving in South Africa, supported Green.
“Mistakes happen in goalkeeping, and Rob Green made a great save (from Jozy Altidore) in the second half to keep us at 1-1,” the 39-year-old James said. “A mistake like that should stay with you for just two minutes.”
Midfielder Frank Lampard also stood up for Green, saying “no one will be pointing the finger” at Green.
“It is unfortunate for keepers,” Lampard said. “They are the last line and, when they make a bit of a (mistake), it gets picked out.”
Green will now have to wait for Capello to make his decision on a starter for Friday’s match against Algeria.
The 63-year-old Capello also has a host of other decisions to mull over at the same time — starting with the central defensive partnership standing in front of goal.
Ledley King, who was brought to the World Cup despite chronic knee problems, had to be replaced at halftime due to fresh groin problems and is a doubt for Friday’s match.
Jamie Carragher, who was persuaded to come out of international retirement for the tournament, came on but looked immobile.
Capello could now give Michael Dawson a first full England start on Friday, with the hope that he reproduces the form that helped Tottenham qualify for the Champions League. Or select Matthew Upson, who has started nine times under the Italian.
While Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole’s fullback berths don’t seem under threat, Capello will be concerned at Cole’s lack of adventure going forward.
Gareth Barry’s return from injury should allow Capello to shake-up the midfield by returning the Manchester City player to a holding role and breaking up the ineffective central partnership of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, who could shift to the left. Aaron Lennon started on the right on Saturday, but for all his pace continues to lack an end product.
Wayne Rooney’s position up front will not be under threat despite failing to score for a sixth game.
“We knew negating as much space as we could in front of him so he couldn’t do that would give us the best chance,” United States defender Jay DeMerit said.
Emile Heskey’s starting spot is coming under increasing scrutiny. He fed Steven Gerrard for the fourth-minute opener on Saturday but he has yet to score for England in a year.
“All the teams I have seen so far in the World Cup will look to improve,” Lampard said, “and we are the same as everybody else in that way.”