ENGLAND vs SPAIN
ENGLAND stars Joe Hart and Phil Jones insist John Terry’s presence in the squad for tomorrow’s friendly against Spain has not caused any tension, despite the captain being under investigation for alleged racial abuse.
Manager Fabio Capello called up Terry for matches against the world champions and Sweden, who visit on Tuesday, while the Football Association and police probe claims, which he strenuously denies, that he insulted QPR’s Anton Ferdinand in taboo terms.
Terry trained with the rest of the squad at Arsenal’s London Colney HQ yesterday ahead of the Wembley double-header, although he is expected to be left out against Spain as Capello experiments with different centre-back combinations.
Goalkeeper Hart said: “I have not felt there are any issues. It’s been dealt by the police so it’s not for us to talk about. I can only talk for me but you’ve just got to concentrate on big games on Saturday and Tuesday. That’s the only way to look at it.”
Defender Jones, who could be a direct beneficiary if Capello opts to rest Chelsea skipper Terry for the Spain clash, emphasised it had been “business as usual”.
“It is not a talking point I have been aware of,” he said. “I don’t know what goes through his mind. I look after myself and how I prepare for this game but I’ll be pretty sure he’ll be as professional as any footballer in preparing for this game.”
The Terry issue and this week’s battle to be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts have largely overshadowed the visit of Spain, who have swept all before them in the past three years.
Vicente del Bosque’s men are sure to provide the sternest of tests for England, not least because Capello is without stars Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young.
But Hart (inset) said: “We shouldn’t get too wrapped up in looking at the opposition. We are a good side, with some great young talent, and will look to put a show on.
“It will be a learning experience but at the same time they are not light years ahead of us. We are not in awe of them.”
England have lost to Spain on their last three meetings, most recently in February 2009 when goals from David Villa and substitute Fernando Llorente exposed a shaky rearguard in Seville.
Everton defender Phil Jagielka, thought to be Capello’s preferred choice to replace Terry against Spain, missed training with a toe injury and will be assessed today before a decision on his involvement is made.