Fabio Cappello: Glen Johnson's no weak link for England
07 September 2009 02:00
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FABIO CAPELLO insists Liverpool full back Glen Johnson is not England's weak link. Whether Croatia think the same is another matter entirely.
Even defeat to Slaven Bilic's men at Wembley on Wednesday would not seriously hamper England's bid to reach next summer's World Cup finals.
The momentum built up under Capello's stewardship would come to a juddering halt though, which is why Saturday's 2-1 win over Slovenia presented more reasons to be concerned than the Italian was willing to let on.
A shaky performance, at least in the opening stages, by West Ham keeper Robert Green was one, also the conundrum presented by Jermain Defoe's current hot streak and a largely anonymous performance from Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Most questions surrounded Johnson though. The Reds defender is excellent going forward. But it was no coincidence the vast majority of Slovenian attacks came down the flank he was supposed to be patrolling.
'Don't worry. I have no problem with Glen Johnson,' urged Capello. Opposite number Matjaz Kek had a different view.
'Glen Johnson is a very dangerous player,' he said.
'Stopping him was very important. But when you play in such an offensive way it leaves a lot of space behind.
'I have seen England two or three times. I knew we could get to the goal on that side.'
If Kek knew it and Slovenia did it, it is a fair bet Bilic and Croatia are aware of the possibility too.
Injury and suspension may rob them of Tottenham duo Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka but, as Steve McClaren found out on their last visit to Wembley two years ago, the Croats have enough players of outstanding ability to exploit opposition weaknesses.
And, until he proves otherwise, Johnson's defending is one.