Capello: Next year I'll rest England stars
Fabio Capello intends to let his England squad take a two-week holiday ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 quest next summer. Twelve months after the dismal performance at the FIFA World Cup™, England conclude a productive season against Switzerland at Wembley tomorrow.
Having accrued ten points from their opening four qualifying games, a home win will leave Capello well placed to have another tilt at tournament glory in Poland and Ukraine. The Italian claims to have learned plenty of lessons from his time in charge so far. The most important is that his players need a break.
"If we reach the European Championships I will not see the players for between 10 days and two weeks," he said. "They will go on holiday and afterwards we will start preparation for the games.
"I learned a lot at the World Cup. I learned that the players were tired at the end of the season. Also I discovered that they don't need a lot of games before they play their first match in a tournament. I trust them to be good. On holiday they can recover the mind. That is really important. During the season they are always focused. They need a break."
Not that Capello is wanting to be accused of getting ahead of himself. Even though Switzerland arrived in London without three key strikers due to retirement and loss of form, and trailing Group G front-runners England and Montenegro by six points, Capello regards the FIFA World Cup qualifiers as tricky customers.
"This is a really dangerous game," he said. "We need to remember that Switzerland have six players from Serie A, two or three from Germany, two more from England. Also, they need to win. But we need to win too because we are only top because we have scored more goals than Montenegro."
Although Capello is weakened in attack through the absence of Wayne Rooney through suspension and Liverpool duo Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll due to injury, his team will be bolstered in defence by Rio Ferdinand's return.
Confirmed as a starter by the England coach, Ferdinand will partner John Terry in a competitive game for the first time since October 2009. More importantly, the Manchester United man will return to the international arena after Capello handed the captain's armband back to Terry.
It was not so much the decision which caused widespread antipathy towards the Italian, but the way it was handled. Finally though, Capello and Ferdinand have spoken, and the England boss was satisfied with the conclusion.
"My relationship with Rio is all resolved," said Capello. "I spoke with him on Tuesday, one-to-one. I explained my decision and he told me what he thought. At the end we shook hands. There are no problems for him, with me or John Terry."
It is expected Capello will stick largely to the side and formation that proved too much for Wales a couple of months ago. However, he also noted England were outstanding against Switzerland in Basle earlier this year, which will give Manchester City trio Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry and James Milner hope of being involved.
One of the common threads from those two games were goals scored by Darren Bent. Twelve months ago, Bent was one of those axed by Capello from his provisional FIFA World Cup squad.
Even for the first half of this season it appeared he harboured doubts about a player who has spent a chunk of his career attempting to shake off the damning comment by Harry Redknapp about failing to execute a finish "my missus" could have managed.
It took a mid-season move to Aston Villa for the 27-year-old to manage it. However, after finishing top English marksman in the Premier League with 17 goals this season, Bent has now won Capello over.
"Darren Bent is a good player," he said. "I hope tomorrow he will be the same player that I saw play in the last games. Some players are good around the pitch and around the box. He is really focused in front of the goal. For me that is really important."