Fabio Capello has underlined his faith in Theo Walcott by signalling that the Arsenal winger will start Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra despite an anonymous display in Kazakhstan at the weekend.
Walcott was hauled off at half-time in England’s 4-0 win in Almaty and his starting place had been thought to be on the line for the clash with the group six minnows.
But Capello believes Walcott’s pace could be the key that unlocks an Andorran side that will come to Wembley looking to get every man behind the ball and frustrate their hosts.
“Walcott will be very important because we have to play to attack and the wide position is very important,” Capello said. “I’ve spoken to him and he trained very well. He needs to play to recover his best condition.”
Capello has warned his players that they may have to be patient.
“I saw their game against Belarus and they put 10 players just in front of the box, waiting, waiting, waiting,” the Italian added.
“It’s not easy. But if we score early it will be an easy game.
“We have to attack. Andorra will be waiting for us in front of their box with 10 players defending.”
Capello confirmed he is considering resting Glen Johnson, who would miss the September clash with Croatia if he picks up another booking. Manchester United veteran Gary Neville is expected to deputise.
Provided three points are collected on Wednesday, England could book their ticket to South Africa as group six winners by beating Croatia at Wembley in their next match.
And Capello declared himself happy with the progress made by his squad in what has been a virtually flawless campaign to date.
“I’ve learnt a lot,” he said. “The players have learnt a lot too about my system, what I want, what I want them to do in games and the different styles we play.
“I’m very happy because I can see in training the players are very happy. It’s important. It’s not like work but happy training.”
Wednesday’s match looks set to be played in a stadium that, at best, will be only two-thirds full because of the impact of a planned strike on London’s underground train network.
England skipper John Terry said he was hoping to reward those fans who did make it to the stadium with a seventh straight win in the group.
“We owe it to ourselves to do it. None of us having been in this position before and it would be be great to end the season on a high.”
Terry added: “Maybe it is a difficult game for a defender. Me and Matt (Matthew Upson) need to keep our concentration and not have too many touches on the ball. We need to move the ball really quickly and make it difficult for them.”
The Chelsea skipper also attempted to place a lid on the burgeoning optimism concerning England’s prospects of going far at the World Cup finals in South African next year.
“Things are going well, we are in a great position, but let’s not get too carried away,” said the defender. “We can make it seven out of seven, but we need to keep our feet on the ground. We’re not there yet. Let’s keep going on that snowball run.”
A 48-hour strike on the London underground was due to begin on Tuesday evening and the Football Association stopped tickets sales for Wednesday’s match last week at 70,000, some 20,000 short of the stadium’s capacity.
The FA has also offered to refund the price of any tickets if fans are unable to get to the game or home after it — a move which could result in the ground being less than half full.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!