Steve McClaren admits the World Cup heroics of Owen Hargreaves convinced him to reshuffle the England midfield.
Hargreaves will partner Frank Lampard at the heart of McClaren's first team with Steven Gerrard switched to the right.
McClaren has named his team for tomorrow's friendly against Greece but his plans to hand a debut to Dean Ashton were wrecked when the West Ham United striker broke his left ankle in training yesterday.
Ashton was due to start but now faces up to three months on the sidelines - and the England manager admitted the injury had "clouded" his day.
Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch will lead the attack in Ashton's absence but the England boss will look for a reaction from his new-look midfield.
McClaren explained: "The key thing that came out of the World Cup was the emergence of Owen Hargreaves and everyone will agree because he was voted our player of the World Cup.
"We've always talked about having someone in that midfield who can sit and hold and it's a natural role for Owen to do.
"The emergence of Owen has just changed things a little bit and, I think, improved us."
Gerrard and Lampard have never produced their prolific Premiership form in England shirts.
McClaren discussed Gerrard's game at length with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez last week and has decided to move the Anfield skipper out wide against the Greeks.
The England boss said: "Stevie's played on the right-hand side a lot of time for Liverpool and scored 23 goals last season.
"I had a very good chat with Rafael Benitez last week, just talking about Steve and his role at Liverpool and trying to transfer that over into the England team.
"I'm trying to get blend and balance in the short space of time we've got to plan and work for this game."
On the left, Stewart Downing will start his first England game. Chelsea's Joe Cole is injured but McClaren's insistence that he wants to play with balance and width must cast doubts about Cole's future role.
The new boss will start with a traditional 4-4-2 system, the one used so often by Sven-Goran Eriksson before he abandoned it at the World Cup and switched to 4-5-1. McClaren said: "It's just one of two or three systems which I hope to look towards over the next couple of years.
"I like the width on the left and a narrow midfield. Stewart gives me great balance on the left."
McClaren and his new coaching staff worked with the players at Old Trafford today but the training session was overshadowed by Ashton's injury.
Captain John Terry said he heard the scream from the other end of the Old Trafford pitch and knew it was serious.
McClaren said: "He went over on his ankle. It's very unfortunate and it clouded the morning.
"It's always sad to see any player getting injured on the training field and especially Dean, who had just come into the squad and was looking forward to his opportunity."
Ashton, aged 22, was the one fresh face and his unfortunate early exit leaves the team with a familiar feel.
Eriksson's back-four remains intact but Defoe is recalled with a point to prove after being axed from the World Cup squad in favour of Theo Walcott.