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Capello's gamble on youth paying off for England

IT was a perfectly reasonable question under the circumstances.

England had just beaten the world champions for the first time since 1980, a 1-0 win over Spain thanks to Frank Lampard's stooping header.

In the process, they had recorded only a second win over top-ranked opposition since their manager came to the helm four years ago.

The achievement came thanks to the contribution of eight players who had virtually no England experience when the debacle of the last World Cup unfolded, and in the knowledge another, Daniel Sturridge, will make his debut against Sweden tomorrow and three more, Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley, were missing through injury.

So, Fabio Capello, is this a bad time to be leaving England?

"Sometimes you need to leave," came the unsatisfactory response.

It was one of those occasions when you wish Capello's grasp of the English language was better than it is.

Capello thought he was being asked whether he wanted to stay beyond the summer, a subject long since exhausted, to which everyone knows the answer.

The question actually had far more to do with the state of Capello's England squad, for the Three Lions are now in their best shape since Euro 2004.


"I remember in my career as a manager, a lot of times I put young players into the team," Capello had remarked a minute or two earlier.

"You can see when someone plays without fear and with confidence.

"They play in the same style they play with their teams. When they were with me at a club, they played the same style with the seniors as they had done with the academy.

"From my experience, they are ready."

'They' are Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell, whose attitude to facing Spain was one of excitement and confidence.

And their youthful inexperience was bolstered by the greater age, but not much more international experience, of Scott Parker, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart.

And, although it is rather bizarre given he scored the winner, what would happen to Lampard if Wilshere and Steven Gerrard were fit?