Capello warns against England arrogance

LONDON - England coach Fabio Capello has warned his players against playing with arrogance in the build up to next year's World Cup finals in South Africa after qualification was achieved with two matches to spare.

Traditionally in England the months leading up to major tournaments are marked by soaring expectations and hyperbole from fans, media and players alike with grand predictions of an end to the country's interminable wait for success.

Victories in their final qualifying matches in Ukraine next Saturday and at home to Belarus the following Wednesday would complete a perfect 10 wins out of 10 for Capello's squad -- sweeping away the gloom of failing to reach Euro 2008.

However, the vastly experienced Capello knows there is a thin dividing line between confidence and complacency.

"England we are one of the best teams in the world and we have to play every game to win but also with respect for the opponents," he told reporters at Wembley before attending five Premier League matches this weekend.

"We must play against every team without fear but we must not be arrogant. If you play with arrogance it's impossible to win."

Capello said only 35 to 37 players were in contention for the 23 seats on the plane to South Africa next June and stressed there would be no room in the squad for anyone, however big their name, if they were not fully fit or in form.

With only four matches left, including Ukraine and Belarus and November's friendly against Brazil in Doha, before Capello makes his picks, there is little room for experimentation.

 

TOUGH TASK

Players such as Manchester United striker Michael Owen, Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole and Tottenham Hotspur defender Ledley King face a tough task proving they are worth a gamble.

Cole, who recently returned from a serious knee injury and Owen, out with a groin strain, will not be in the squad for the trip to Dnipropetrovsk.

Capello said his strongest possible 11 would begin against Ukraine but offered hope to some players on the fringe like Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and Sunderland forward Darren Bent.

"It's possible that some new players will play in one of the next two games. I'm not sure if it will be the first or the second," Capello said.

"I will play with the best players 100 percent in the first half as always. The second half it's possible I will make some subs. They are not friendly games, they are not experimental games. We have to continue what we have done in qualification.

"Agbonlahor is young and sometimes you have to wait for young players to get a bit more confidence. But he is in a good moment. Darren is also scoring a lot of goals and I saw him against Chelsea and he played very well.

"Carrick was with us when we played Croatia. He is playing very well and (will) probably start one of the two games."

While the door remains open for players to make the squad, Capello ruled out taking any passengers, which is bad news for Tottenham's King who struggles to train and cannot play two games in quick succession because of knee problems.

"It's a problem for (Spurs manager) Harry Redknapp, Tottenham, for me," Capello said. "If he's fit it's better for me because he is one of the best defenders.

"But when I select a squad I select players to play every game. He has to be able to play not wait 10 days to play another game. He has to be with us every game, every training session, every day."


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