Venables: Defeat to France is alright as long as Capello bloods new talent

FORMER England manager Terry Venables has accused current boss Fabio Capello of becoming too reliant on strike pair Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, and believes the Italian can afford to lose tomorrow’s friendly with France if it means discovering a reliable alternative.

Injuries to first-choice pairing Rooney and Defoe, as well as knocks to Sunderland’s Darren Bent and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora, have plunged England’s attacking plans into disarray, meaning Capello could hand debuts to Newcastle’s Andy Carroll and Cardiff’s Jay Bothroyd.

But that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, says Venables, who insists the fixture against Les Bleus at Wembley represents the perfect opportunity to blood future internationals.

“I think he has got to get something from this game tomorrow – he’s got to,” Venables told City A.M. “If he does, it’s been worthwhile. And he mustn’t worry about the result. He’ll get hammered if he loses but if he gets a player or two out of it, it’ll be worthwhile.

“We have become reliant on Rooney. And the shame of it is we’ve also started to become reliant on Defoe, who has also had his problems with injuries. They were getting to know each other’s play. In all these things, the more front players you’ve got the better, but that’s not been easy either.”

Venables, who led England to the semi-finals of Euro ’96, identifies Aston Villa’s Ashley Young and Manchester City’s Adam Johnson as players who could help England bounce back from a woeful World Cup and reach Euro 2012.

“Ashley Young: I think he’s improving, apart from coming inside and shooting over the bar too much. I like him, he can play in that wide area or behind the centre forward,” he added. “You’ve got people like Johnson, who’s got the ability. And they both wanted the ball in the last game, which I like. You’ve got to show that bravery under pressure.”

Last month’s qualifying draw with Montenegro (population: 672,000) prompted renewed calls for Capello to fall on his sword, but Venables refuses to wade into the debate over whether the decorated former Real Madrid coach should be in charge.

“There’s no point in saying whether he’s the right man. He is the right man because he is the man,” Venables says. “And I think it’s massively important for him and for everybody that we do exceptionally well in the Euros.”

Venables, 67, has been out of management since leaving Leeds in 2003 and shows little appetite for a comeback. Repeatedly he says a return, even with England, would not be of interest, yet later amends this to “never say never”. Perhaps Capello is not the only one exploring options.

Terry Venables was speaking on behalf of 188BET and Top Up TV, who are offering British sports fans three months of top class sports action on ESPN for free. For more information please go to