England don oxygen masks

England's players began their World Cup preparations in the Austrian mountains on Monday, using oxygen masks to assist their breathing as they prepare for life at high altitude in South Africa.

Fabio Capello’s 30-man squad are currently based in Irdning in order to get to grips with the conditions they’ll expect at next month's global showpiece.

The specialist equipment - which the FA ordered from a London-based altitude training company – will be worn by the players at specific times of the day.

The United States reached the final of the Confederations Cup in South Africa last summer with no specialist training.

But Michael Davison, a director at the Altitude Centre, insists Capello’s precautions will benefit the side.

“England’s training camp at the World Cup is in Rustenburg, which is roughly equivalent to being camped on top of Ben Nevis for six weeks,” he said in The Times.

Davison believes the preparations will ensure the players don’t suffer a shock to the system when they take on the United States in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on June 12, 1,500 metres above sea level.

“The players’ bodies need to have felt the stress of working at that altitude, even if it’s just to give them the confidence that they can handle it.

"In their first training session in South Africa, they will be breathless, but the altitude training will mean that they’re not caught in the headlights when the matches start.”

By Owen Edwards

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