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WORLD CUP 2010: Japan clash will decide who makes England cut

28 May 2010 22:26:05

WORLD CUP 2010: Japan clash will decide who makes England cut

Judging by training in Irdning on Friday, England's players are not just preparing for their final audition before the World Cup but also for what is looking like a whole new ball game. Everything Fabio Capello had them doing was built around getting to grips with the adidas Jabulani ball they will finally get to play with when they meet Japan in Graz on Sunday afternoon. According to onlookers it was fascinating to watch Capello working closely with Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson as they delivered cross after cross from the flanks. Walcott from the right; Johnson from the left.  THREE KEY QUESTIONS CAPELLO HAS TO ANSWER... Enlarge  Johnson received so much one-to-one guidance from England's manager it seems likely he will get a good deal longer on the pitch than he did against Mexico on Monday. While Capello focused on his wide men, his coaching staff joined Wayne Rooney in studying the flight of the ball when shooting from distance. Rooney seemed to have it under control, the majority of his efforts sailing into the top corner of the net. But after each one he would stop to have a discussion in an attempt to fine-tune his technique in the thinner, high-altitude air. With the exception of Steven Gerrard and Ledley King, everyone took part in shooting practice on Friday but at no stage did the England manager give any clue as to what he had in mind for the last game before he names his 23-man squad for South Africa. There was no practice match; no formation work; not enough, seemingly, to satisfy Frank Lampard. At a time when most of the players had chosen to call it a day, Lampard went into the centre circle and knocked off a couple of hundred press-ups and sit-ups. This game has to serve two purposes for Capello; it must not only help him identify which seven players to telephone on Tuesday with bad news, but also which team he needs to select for that opening group encounter with the USA on June 12. Barry is continuing to make good progress. He has started jogging on a special running machine that allows him to run while not putting all his weight on his injured ankle. Wing and a prayer: Adam Johnson wasput through a series of crossing drills But the game against the Americans is still expected to come too soon for the Manchester City midfielder and for that reason Capello needs to identify an alternative. If the Italian does value the contributions made in training, Scott Parker has to be given an opportunity to shine. The Italian still has his reservations about Parker. Not only does he worry about a tackling technique that might not be tolerated at a World Cup as much as it is in England but also whether the West Ham midfielder has the quality to perform at the very highest level. In training, however, Parker has displayed a real desire to succeedand he does have the aggression Capello sees only in Gerrard as theother genuine alternative to Barry. If Parker does get on the pitch, itwill be up to him to silence any doubts. Tom Huddlestone is anotheroption the manager might choose to revisit, possibly even inpartnership with Parker at some point. But Capello restedthe Chelsea players after their efforts in the FA Cup final andLampard's body language certainly pointed to a place among thestarters. The same goes for Ashley Cole, even though Capello wants totest Stephen Warnock to determine if he should be in Rustenburg aheadof Leighton Baines. Baines did little to justify his selection againstthe Mexicans. Most intriguing of all, however, is the situation concerning thestrikers. A hamstring injury denied Darren Bent the opportunity toparticipate in Monday night's match but he put a marker down when hescored the only goal in Thursday's training match. Despitethat, however, Bent surely starts behind Emile Heskey who, for all hisfrustrations at Aston Villa this season, remains Rooney's partner ofchoice. Peter Crouch might wonder what he has to do to stay ahead of Heskey in Capello's pecking order, especially when he has scored as many goals (seven) in his last six England appearances as Heskey has managed in 57. But there is another statistic that would form the basis of any argument Rooney might wish to present. In his last nine starts alongside Heskey during the Italian's tenure, Rooney has scored nine goals. Given that Barry is expected to miss the USA game, Capello has to think seriously about how to best organise his team. Particularly when it could involve sacrificing Gerrard's attacking threat and asking him to play one game in the holding role Barry would normally occupy. Rooney feeds well off the service Heskey provides and given the emphasis Capello put on crossing on Friday, it would appear the 63-year-old wants to utilise Heskey's terrific aerial ability - even if we should assume that at some point Joe Cole will get the chance to audition for a place in the 23. Going forward: Emile Heskey and Darren Bent are set to be handed a chance to shine against Japan John Terry will definitely return on Sunday after being rested on Monday, as will David James. For James, the pressure is most certainly on, given how well Robert Green performed against Mexico. Enlarge That night at Wembley England were disappointing. Not only were they defensively fragile but there was a lack of urgency in their play. Considering what is now at stake, it would be a surprise to see them deliver another such performance. 'Everyone has been chomping at the bit to put themselves out there in front of the manager and show him what they can do,' said Rio Ferdinand. Having narrowly missed out on making the final cut for Euro 2000, Ferdinand knows how tough it will be for the seven who are left out when Capello names his final squad on Tuesday. 'I've been there,' said the England captain. 'I've had that talk, that conversation, saying you're not experienced enough, not good enough, however they want to dress it up. 'You are not getting that chance to go on the plane and to have that said to you is not a nice thing, although when the time comes I'm sure we will deal with it in the right way. 'I was left out for Euro 2000 and it took me that summer to get over it but I went back to training and became a better professional. I trained harder and became a better player and I would urge the younger players who miss out to do that as well.' On Sunday, however, such thoughts have to be put to one side.  Gerrard injury fears as calf problem sees midfielder miss England training againFabio Capello is great candidate to replace Jose Mourinho, admits Inter Milan chief Capello's clear vision for England success in South Africa


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