Capello Hails Rooney Talent
Published : 30 Mar 2009 07:09:00
Fabio Capello was always confident Wayne Rooney would hit the goal trail for England. After failing to find the target in his first five games under the Italian, Rooney has now taken his tally to seven in the last four thanks to his brace against Slovakia at Wembley on Saturday. The return more than justifies Capello's decision to leave the 23-year-old in his favoured position and instead offer Steven Gerrard a licence to roam from the left flank. And, as he looks ahead to Wednesday's key World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, Capello is not in the slightest bit surprised. "I am very happy when Rooney plays," said Capello. "He is different to the other players and has always done well with the national team. "I was sure he would score goals for us. I told him some things about the movement he needed to do in front of goal. "But he is a very big talent. He can do everything." Rooney's obvious ability, plus the relish with which Gerrard has approached a role that is slightly different to the one he enjoys at Liverpool, appear to block the path to a return for Michael Owen. When Carlton Cole was ruled out by a thigh injury that limited him to only 21 minutes of action at the weekend, Capello went for Tottenham's Darren Bent as a like-for-like replacement. "I have to choose players to play against the Ukraine, not against history," said Capello, when asked why he was ignoring a player who has scored 40 goals for his country, only nine away from Sir Bobby Charlton's record. "I have chosen the best players who are in good form at the moment. "It is impossible to choose someone who has only played for 20 minutes. Why didn't he play the last game?" The answer is, after a miserable run of injuries, Owen was dropped for Newcastle's home defeat by Arsenal last Saturday. Capello did state if Owen were to "play three or four games he would be with us" but, alongside the comment about the striker's past glories, it seemed pretty insignificant. And, more importantly than either assessment, was confirmation, moments earlier, of how Capello envisages his team for the future. "We play with three midfielders, two players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard and one forward," he declared. With Emile Heskey ruled out by injury, Capello will check on the fitness of Peter Crouch, who limped off on Saturday, before deciding how to approach Ukraine, although clearly he is loath to split the Rooney-Gerrard axis by playing his in-form striker further up the field. Whatever Capello decides, it is fair to assume his players will buy into the idea, such is the confidence England have in their Italian leader. And Aaron Lennon is among those set to prosper as Capello revealed it was always his intention to preserve the Tottenham flyer's fitness by replacing him with record-breaking David Beckham at half-time. "I decided before the game that Lennon would play until half-time," he said. "He is in fantastic form and I want him fresh for the next game."