Capello happy with squad spirit

LONDON COLNEY - England manager Fabio Capello said the off-pitch diversions of recent weeks had not undermined his squad's spirit going into Wednesday's friendly with Egypt at Wembley.

The Italian confirmed England will be captained by Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard in the absence of Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who will take over when he is fit.

"But tomorrow, it will be Gerrard," Capello told a news conference at England's training ground on Tuesday.

The Italian stripped John Terry of the captaincy following newspaper stories about the central defender's alleged affair with the ex-partner of his former Chelsea team mate Wayne Bridge, who has since retired from the national team.

"He (Terry) knows he will not be captain and he's like the other players, he's training well, he will be the same player in the dressing room," said Capello.

"I've told him he has to be the same player as when he was captain," added the England manager who repeated that he did not think Terry would regain the armband under him.

Capello explained that while he had spoken to Terry, and the other players, about their behaviour and responsibilities, he had been more concerned about the general attitude of his squad in training on Tuesday.

"Their private troubles are not my problem," he said. "After such a long time, it is more important to me to speak about spirit and to make sure they understand what we have to do - and to be very focused in training.

"And this morning I saw what I wanted to see, so I am happy for that."


The England squad had not gathered since last November when they lost 1-0 to Brazil in Doha with a second-string side and Capello was anxious to recreate the unity that had carried them successfully through their World Cup qualifiers.

"I am really happy as I saw the same thing as I saw when we played in November," added Capello.

"After four months away, on the training pitch I found exactly the England I wanted to find and hopefully they will show it on the pitch.

"I learned a lot about what happens in this country when things happen outside the pitch but we have to forget everything.

He appealed to the England fans to give the team their full support and not to barrack Terry. "I hope the crowd will help us and help John Terry and not boo him."

Capello said he would select Everton's Leighton Baines or Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock at left-back in the absence of the injured Ashley Cole and Bridge's decision not to make himself available for selection.

However, the manager said again he would "leave the door open" for Bridge to change his mind and for other players to perform with such conviction that they could force their way into his squad.

Capello, smiling, said his choice at right-back was limited to one player - Manchester United's Wes Brown - which reveals how limited his options are thanks to widespread injuries.

The England manager opted to face Egypt as preparation for this year's World Cup, where his team play Algeria in the group stage, and said he held the African champions in high esteem.

"It's not easy to win the African Nations Cup if you are not a good team," he said. "They have good organisation on the pitch, their two forwards (Mohamed Zidan and Emad Motaeb) are dangerous, it will be a really interesting test."