Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

Capello admits taking risk by leaving out key players against Spain

ENGLAND manager Fabio Capello has admitted he is taking a risk by leaving some of his key men out of tomorrow's friendly with Spain - but believes it is vital to learn how his fringe players cope against such high-class opposition.

Already without Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere due to injury, Capello also opted not to select Rio Ferdinand on form grounds and Wayne Rooney because he will be suspended for the start of England's Euro 2012 quest in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

In addition, John Terry will be on the bench at Wembley as Capello wants to know more about his back-up defenders.

Given current world and European champions Spain will arrive with all their star men, it does appear Capello is taking a massive gamble.

"Yes. It is a risk. But not a lot," said Capello.

"We respect all the teams but Spain's style is different. Their ball possession is really good and when they lose it they press very quickly to win it back.

"This is why you need to play a good game and play with confidence.

"We have prepared well but we know it will be difficult."

With such a significant core of Barcelona players, the danger is that Spain get on the same carousel Sir Alex Ferguson felt the Catalans climbed aboard when they so contemptuously flicked Manchester United away on the same Wembley pitch in last season's Champions League final.

Yet even if Andres Iniesta and Xavi were left out due to their club's re-arranged Spanish cup tie this week, Spain could still call on David Silva, hot favourite to win this season's player of the year prizes thanks to his sparkling form for Manchester City this season.

Silva is one of the few members of the Spain squad who have no connection to either Barca or their great rivals Real Madrid, the team Capello twice managed to championship success in La Liga.

That CV gives Capello a unique insight into what turned Spain from serial underachievers to one of the most successful national sides ever.

"It was really important for the Spanish team to win the Euros (in 2008)," he said.

"Before that, their confidence was not so good.

"Now they are a fantastic team, and it is based around Barcelona and Real Madrid, because between them, they more or less have the most important Spanish players for Spain."

Other than confirming Frank Lampard would take over from Chelsea team-mate John Terry as skipper, Capello was being coy about his selection, citing a preference for his players not to find out until the day of the game just in case the camp is hit by an overnight bug.

Capello has previously announced his team 24 hours in advance for a friendly. This time there is an element of guesswork involved, with both Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge hoping to get the chance to press their European Championship claims, two of 10 remaining members of the squad who have fewer than six caps.

One of them is Phil Jones, signed by Manchester United from Blackburn as a central defender, capped for the first time by Capello at right-back in Montenegro last month and now set to start in central midfield, the one crumb of information the England coach was prepared to throw out.

"Phil Jones will play as a midfielder," he said.

"I spoke with Sir Alex (Ferguson). He told me he can play there because he is a fantastic player.

"He is young. He can play centre-back, right-back and midfield. I think he will play well against Spain in midfield."

Capello will be allowed to make up to six substitutions, and he intends to use them for the first of only three more games before he must select a squad to atone for that disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa.

Press Association

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