ENGLAND v/s FRANCE
NEWCASTLE’S Andy Carroll has made as many front page as back page headlines during his fledgling career, but England boss Fabio Capello believes the glare of the international spotlight will help focus the mind of the talented striker.
Carroll, 21, the joint leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season, is set to make his eagerly awaited debut for the senior England side against France at Wembley this evening.
The ethical rights and wrongs of selecting a player who has been found guilty on one count of assault, and who is currently on bail having been charged with the same offence last month, have been hotly debated.
But Capello, a renowned stickler for discipline, believes Carroll will flourish, rather than falter, under the pressure of representing his country.
“He’s a good player and I think he will understand, to stay with the senior [squad] will be really important for him because all the people, the newspapers, journalists will be focused on his life. I think he will improve,” said Capello (left).
“I hope he takes on more responsibility now. He needs to improve things in his private life now. It’s really important.
“I spoke with him about what you have to do on the pitch and I will speak to him about his private life.”
Carroll will be joined in a largely experimental line-up by fellow north east based starlet, Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson, and Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, who will make his first senior start.
And Capello, who has been pleasantly surprised at the depth of talent he is able to call on, believes it is crucial the development of his young players is not hampered by unrealistic expectations or ultra harsh criticism should they flounder against a revitalised France side.
He said: “Henderson is a really interesting player because his movement is very good. He takes one touch, or two maximum.
“The three players [Carroll, Henderson and Gibbs], we have to support them if the performances are not okay.
“They are not here because of injuries. They are here because they are the future of England.”