Fabio Capello has spoken of the "big confidence" he has in his England players to perform well at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
England can take a huge step towards ensuring qualification by overcoming Kazakhstan in Almaty tomorrow and then Andorra at Wembley next Wednesday. Capello has faith in skipper John Terry and the rest of his team to do themselves justice in South Africa in 12 months' time.
Capello said: "First we have to get through to South Africa but I think we will be a very good team if we achieve that. We are very strong and we can play against all the best teams of the best countries in the world. I am very happy with these players, with this group and I have big confidence in the future."
Capello will not used end-of-season tiredness as an excuse should England slip up against Kazakhstan. He said: "At the end of the season, the players are not fresh like when we started. But we have to play two very important games against Kazakhstan and Andorra.
"The problems of players, if they are tired or not, is no excuse. We have to play, we have to win and everyone who plays has to be very strong. There will be no excuses that we are tired or wanting a holiday. None of that."
Capello is happy to see Arsenal winger Theo Walcott return to the international fold for the first time in eight month since suffering his shoulder problem. Walcott shot to prominence with his hat-trick in the 4-1 demolition of Croatia in Zagreb earlier in the campaign. Capello said: "I think all the players are important, not only Theo Walcott. But he is good. We are happy that he is back because it is important for us."
We are very strong and we can play against all the best teams of the best countries in the world. I am very happy with these players, with this group and I have big confidence in the future.
Capello understands Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's concerns over Walcott suffering from burn-out, as he will join up with the U-21s for the UEFA European U-21 Championship in Sweden after the two FIFA World Cup games. However, he points to the fact that Walcott missed a sizeable chunk of the campaign with his shoulder setback.
Capello said: "Theo is one of the players that played less games last season. He was injured for four months and now he has just started to be very fit. I followed him in the last games he played. Stuart Pearce (Under-21 coach) spoke with him and he was happy to play for the Under-21s and so after the seniors Theo will go with the Under-21s.
"I understand also all the managers at the start of the season like to have all the team together because pre-season is very important. For this reason, I understand Arsene (Wenger). But there are also the Confederation Cup, South American World Cup games and others going on during the summer."
Capello will assess the fitness of Rio Ferdinand after Saturday's game. He has not travelled to Almaty because of a back problem. However, the manager has confidence in the likes of Joleon Lescott and Matthew Upson if they are needed alongside Terry.
Capello said: "Rio was not fit so he stayed in England. We have played a lot of games without him and I have big confidence in Joleon Lescott and big confidence in Matthew Upson. There is no problem for the game. When we return to England, we will check the condition of Rio and if he is fit, he will stay with us."
Capello was also keen to play down reports of a training ground altercation between midfielder Gareth Barry and another player after the Manchester City newcomer had been challenged. He said: "I was a player. I am a manager. During the training sometimes, some players after one tackle push the other one but yesterday I saw nothing. Absolutely nothing."
Capello is also backing new Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti to be a success in the Premier League. He said: "It is the first time Carlo will have worked away from Italy. It is an adventure for him and I hope he will do very well and bring big satisfaction for the club and the owner (Roman Abramovich).