Chris Hatherall - Fun and games in the England camp

By 11 June 2010 09:56

It's all fun and games in the England camp ahead of the big kick-off - and I'm not just talking about the media scrum.

England's players are ready to take out their pent-up energy on the USA but life under Fabio Capello's strict regime in Rustenburg hasn't been as deadly dull as many were expecting.

Capello's philosophy at the team hotel is his players must be business-like in their preparation for the World Cup and that means not wasting energy on anything other than football.

He doesn't like players spending hours playing Playstation or computer games for instance, believing it saps the brain, and urges his team to concentrate on relaxation and mental preparation instead. But contrary to rumours that all sporting activities would be banned at the Royal Bafokeng Palace complex where England are based it seems the players are successfully avoiding boredom.

There have already been games of golf organised for the whole squad, a safari trip and plenty of competition on the table-tennis tables. Darts has also proved popular and Steven Gerrard yesterday revealed the hotel has a full size snooker table - perfect for him as he famously had one installed at his home in Liverpool and is a keen player. Although apparently he has found James Milner a serious rival for the Pot Black crown!

Gerrard also let slip he has been watching a DVD of the British Lions rugby tour of South Africa to inspire him ahead of Saturday's big game - and that's good news. I was in the crowd when the Lions beat the Springboks 28-9 at Ellis Park last year and believe me if England show the same kind of character and determination as Ian McGeechan's boys then the US are in trouble in Rustenburg this weekend.

Rumour has it Capello already knows what team he will be playing against the States, including which goalkeeper, but he certainly hasn't told us yet. Opinion amongst the press corps is still divided - most are now plumping for David James but there's a sizeable Robert Green camp too.

What does look more likely, however, is that Joe Cole has done enough to earn himself a starting place in England's team and that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will play in central midfield.

Joe has already won over the press when he turned on his cheeky London charm to great effect in an interview earlier this week and had even cynical old hacks eating out of his hand.

He has also come up with the quote of the tournament so far after being asked to talk about England's safari trip. "We saw elephants, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest and all the food basically. We didn't see any cats but they really tried," he said.

"They got the speaker out with the sound of an animal in distress and a guy was running round with the blood and they just weren't coming. It was great - it sets the scene.

"The last World Cup excursion we had was in Japan and we went to TGI Friday's. It's not the same really."

There is growing hope here in Rustenburg that England won't be the same, either, and a tangible relief that after a week of constant press conferences and briefings the World Cup really is about to start. Thank goodness it's Friday.


Source: DSG

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Last updated : 08:57