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Capello facing up to Barry headache

Fabio Capello has said he will be proud to stand behind his England team even if they face Italy in the World Cup final.

On the evidence of Monday night's performance against Mexico, there are still a few teething problems for Capello to address before his dream scenario can come true, with the availability of Gareth Barry chief amongst his concerns.

However, should his adopted national team come face-to-face with the Azzurri at Soccer City on July 11, there is not a moment's hesitation about what Capello would want the outcome to be.

“I hope to play against Italy in the final or the semi-final but at that moment my shirt would be an England shirt,” he said.

“I would not swap my position with Marcello Lippi. I prefer to be England manager.”

He would presumably prefer not to have the headache which must dominate his thoughts about England's midfield just now though.

Although Barry visited a specialist yesterday for an assessment on the ankle injury he suffered in Manchester City's defeat to Tottenham on May 5, there has been no public clarification from the Football Association about whether the 29-year-old will be fit for duty in South Africa.

Barry has returned to his club for further treatment, which is not the greatest sign.

However, as Capello's own stipulation is that the former Aston Villa man must be available for the Group C opener against the United States on June 12, there is still time.

And, on the evidence of the win over Mexico, Capello might be tempted to adopt a flexible attitude to his own rules in order to keep Barry involved.

Certainly the four Chelsea players who sat out the contest must have reflected what a good 45 minutes the first-half had been to miss, given England's inability to stem the flow of speedy Mexicans flying through midfield and attacking an unprotected defence.

Capello rarely wastes an opportunity to emphasise how impressed he is with James Milner.

On this occasion, the Aston Villa man struggled. And he was not alone as central midfield partner Michael Carrick failed to exert any kind of influence on proceedings.

It was not until Steven Gerrard was switched from his left-sided station at the break that some coherence was evident in England's play.

Better now than in three weeks though, according to Capello.

“I am not worried about that performance.

“It is important to make the mistakes now,” he said.

“We have time to work on these mistakes and other things that we have to do to be better to ensure we play like I know this team can play because we have really good players.

“We need to recover the spirit of what we did in qualification,” he added.

That run of nine wins from 10 games forms the basis of optimism many England fans insisted would not exist in the wake of that awful failure to reach Euro 2008.

Capello is responsible for the change in attitude.

Yet he must realise some of the back-up for what is regarded as his first-choice line-up is limited.

Gerrard's presence in central midfield merely showed how desperate England are for Barry to be fit.

“Gerrard can play in the centre and he can play on the left,” Capello added.

“He is an excellent player and I am really happy with his performance. But we have other players who can play in the same position, so we will see.”

Belfast Telegraph