ENGLAND VS USA
IT’S taken a hard-fought Premier League season, ten qualifying matches and a few injury heartaches, but Fabio Capello’s deliberation is over.
Finally, the England boss admitted last night he knows his starting line-up for the World Cup opener with the United States on Saturday.
All that stands in the way of Capello putting his masterplan into action now is one final training session today.
And the Italian can do no more but hope and pray his players come through it unscathed.
Much has been made of the decision on whether David James, Robert Green or Joe Hart should start in goal, and the coach is still keeping his cards close to his chest – even from his own players. “Yes, I’ve decided, I know,” Capello said when asked if he knew which goalkeeper would start. “I know the 11 that will play Saturday and I hope the next two days, during the training, all the players will be fit.”
Capello has clearly showed signs of strain during a difficult warm-up period which has included an injury to captain Rio Ferdinand, disappointing warm-up performances and an outburst at photographers.
But the coach insists he remains calm, although says he can appreciate the anxiety surrounding the camp as the big kick-off draws closer.
“I’m relaxed,” he added. “I can understand the pressure because in every moment we walk around you can see the security, the journalists, you can see when you move to golf, to safari, you need to police a lot of this.
“I understand that this is a really, really important moment for the country.”
While Capello is staying calm, captain Steven Gerrard is calling on the players to follow suit on the field during the World Cup campaign.
Discipline has come under the microscope this week after Wayne Rooney was needlessly booked for swearing at a referee during a low-key warm-up game. Now, Gerrard has warned his team-mates not to fall into the trap of letting indiscpline jeopardise the side’s chances.
“The manager stresses the importance of always having 11 men on the pitch and this tournament is going to be difficult enough so if we lose someone it will only complicate things further. We’ve had experience of losing big players at important times and we need to keep everyone on the pitch.”