Fabio Capello is planning for his England team to take on the world champions Spain in February as part of their preparations for Euro 2012 – providing the team qualify for the tournament next summer.
The friendly at Wembley would be the last game for England before Capello announced his provisional squad for the competition and is part of the forward planning put in place by his general manager Franco Baldini, who will leave after Euro 2012 qualifying finishes in October. Baldini, whose departure to take up the role of general manager at Roma was officially announced yesterday, may yet play a role in England's preparation next summer.
The 50-year-old, who has been Capello's key aide in more than three and a half years as England manager, has offered to return to work unpaid for England's February friendly and in the build-up to Euro 2012. Should England have to qualify via the play-offs in November, Baldini would make himself available.
The decision to play Spain in February is a brave one, especially as the world and European champions have a habit of giving the England team a reality check when it comes to their ambitions for tournaments. The Spain team beat Capello's England 2-0 in February 2009.
On 10 August England play the Netherlands at Wembley in their first friendly of the season and the first of their three remaining Euro 2012 qualifiers is against Bulgaria on 2 September.
Baldini has been a long-term target for the new Roma owner Thomas DiBenedetto. He had initially wanted Baldini to start this summer but he said that he could not leave the FA before the end of last season.