England finalising World Cup plans
Published : 03 Mar 2010 12:48:00
England will complete their World Cup preparations against Mexico and Japan.
The matches will form the centrepiece of Fabio Capello's meticulous preparations for South Africa, which include two training camps in Austria.
Capello will then confirm his 23-man squad on June 1, 24 hours before England depart with high hopes of emulating Sir Alf Ramsey's 1966 team.
Anticipation is growing ahead of the tournament following an excellent qualifying campaign during which England won nine out of 10 matches, their only defeat coming in the Ukraine after goalkeeper Robert Green had been sent off.
A relatively straightforward group, featuring the United States, Algeria and Slovenia, and the knowledge that tournament favourites Brazil and Spain cannot be met until the semi-finals, has further fuelled belief.
Although this has been tarnished by injuries to key men Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole, doubts about the goalkeeping position and the furore that resulted in John Terry being stripped of the captaincy and Wayne Bridge declining to make himself available, there is still a feel-good factor surrounding Capello's squad.
The precise date of the Mexico encounter at Wembley has still to be confirmed, with FA officials hoping FIFA will allow the game to be played on Sunday, May 23, rather than a day later as is presently the case.
Fellow qualifiers Japan will be encountered in Graz for England's final friendly, the match being scheduled for Sunday, May 30.
In between, England will spend most of their time in Austria at a training camp in Irdning.
Capello will name what is likely to be a 28-man provisional squad on May 17, the day after the FA Cup final, then leave a day later minus any players involved at Wembley or in the Champions League final in Madrid on May 22.