Tonight, ko 8pm, itv1
ENGLAND head coach Fabio Capello mounted a staunch defence of John Terry’s recent performances ahead of tonight’s friendly against Egypt but reiterated that there is no way back for him as captain.
Chelsea skipper Terry has shown signs of being affected by a spate of negative media coverage of his private life as the Blues have slipped to back-to-back defeats to Inter Milan and Manchester City. Capello, however, does not agree with the player’s critics, insisting the centre back has not been affected by the tabloid storm.
Yet the Italian, who stripped Terry of the armband over his off-the-field behaviour, made it clear there would be no reprieve and confirmed that Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard would lead England against the African champions. An injury to Terry’s successor Rio Ferdinand has opened the door for Capello to make a U-turn, but he said: “I think no. I think the next captain will be Rio. For Wednesday, the captain will be Steven Gerrard.”
On Terry, he added: “He is training very well. He will be the same player in the dressing room. I told him you have to do the same things as a captain. I saw the he played in Milan and at home to Manchester City. He played his normal game but always, when the player’s team loses, the journalists try to find something about the most important player. I think he played very well in the two games.”
Terry is facing a potentially hostile reception at Wembley this evening, having seen his popularity plunge in the wake of his alleged affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex-partner. That prompted Manchester City full-back Bridge to reject an England call-up, but Capello joined Wayne Rooney in calling for fans to ensure a positive atmosphere.
“The fans have to support every moment,” added Capello, who said the door remained open to Bridge. “I hope that the crowd help us and do not boo him.”
Gerrard, meanwhile, emphasised that stories about Terry, and the troubled marriage of injured England left-back Ashley Cole, had not affected morale. “Nothing has changed, the team spirit has been fantastic over the last couple of days,” he said. “The message is to move on, forget about it and concentrate on football.”