Belfast Telegraph

Rooney ready to be England's captain, says Capello

Fabio Capello will hand Wayne Rooney the captain's armband tomorrow and place his trust in the Manchester United star if John Terry does not overcome an ankle problem.

Capello is still hopeful Terry will be fit for England's high-profile friendly with Brazil in Qatar.

However, having pledged to take no risks with the Chelsea skipper, whose team-mate Frank Lampard flew home yesterday, Capello needs a contingency plan.

And although Gareth Barry, the only other player available tomorrow who could constitute part of England's current first-choice XI, stood in for Terry at this afternoon's pre-match press conference, it will be Rooney who gets the job.

It represents an impressive show of faith in the 24-year-old, given his previous explosions of temper.

Only last Sunday he mouthed the words "12 men" at a TV camera following United's controversial defeat at Chelsea, although the striker did admit yesterday he was wrong to do so.

However, Capello has no reservations.

"It will be Rooney," said the Italian. "I think Rooney is ready to be a captain. Why not?"

Other than Barry, there would be no alternative given the team Capello will have to pick.

He knew England would be depleted, even without yesterday's double-whammy in training which could end up being costly to Chelsea, even if Capello does not believe either Terry or Lampard are seriously hurt.

Both pulled up during a routine training session, although Terry's problem is clearly not major.

"He was running and then he twisted his ankle," said Capello. "I hope he will be fit tomorrow. The doctor is confident that he will recover.

"But if he is not 100% fit he won't play. I will not take any risks."

Lampard is already back in London having treatment on a thigh injury which flared up during what Rooney felt was a "difficult" session in the baking heat of the Middle East.

It has been suggested the timing of Thursday's session could have been a factor in Lampard's injury, while the seven-hour flight to Doha has also been put forward as a factor.

However, Capello dismissed both arguments out of hand.

"We always train at this time, except the day before an away game when we train at night in the stadium where the match is going to be played," he said.

"Yes, it is hot. But if we are going to need air-conditioning, we have to train inside. The match is being played outside.

"There always seems to be a different story.

"The plane was exactly the same one as we used to get to Trinidad last year and Kazakhstan earlier this year. We had no injuries then and we won both matches."

Despite early fears that Lampard could be out until Christmas, Capello's timescale is much smaller, maybe the end of November but no longer.

"It is a problem with the muscle that he has had before," he said.

"Then he didn't play for two months. But I have spoken to the doctor and he thinks this time it will be two or three weeks."

Even if Terry is fit, Capello will look to a team largely comprised of fringe players to try to record England's fourth victory over the world's most glamorous team.

Although Capello has his fingers crossed a similar spate of injuries do not occur next May, when he will name his provisional World Cup squad, he is quite relaxed about the present situation because it provides him with the opportunity to see players in action when the pressure is on.

"There are some players I already know a lot about," he said. "There are others who do well for their clubs but I need to know what happens with the national team.

"For that reason it is not a problem that some of the players who got us through qualifying are missing."

As someone who played and scored against Brazil, Capello shares the enthusiasm most English supporters reserve for the five-time World Cup winners.

And as tomorrow's game also represents the first time he has faced a South American side since he succeeded Steve McClaren, it is a contest Capello intends to relish.

"Yes, Italians do look at Brazil in the same way as English fans," he said.

"It is the same because the Brazilian national team has won a lot of titles. For that reason, all the Italians. and Germans as well, respect them.

"They have not only won titles but they always play very well.

"They have a different style and players with a lot of imagination. You don't know what they're going to do next.

"For this reason it is important to play against Brazil and to learn a lot from this game."

Belfast Telegraph


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