Wembley wonder gives Capello more puzzles to solve


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When England were eliminated in such dismal terms from the World Cup last summer, the challenge put to Fabio Capello was whether he could tear up his old team and launch a new version of England in time for the European Championship next year. Come Saturday evening only four of the 14 players who featured on that painful afternoon against Germany in Bloemfontein on 27 June last year played for an England team that beat Spain, the World Cup winners.

Capello can claim to have demolished the England team of 2010. He now has two games – against Sweden tomorrow and the March friendly against Holland – before he has to name his squad for Euro 2012. Rarely has there been such an open field for England places so close to a tournament. The win over Spain only seemed to throw more names into the reckoning.

In the immediate aftermath of the game, Capello praised Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck, Jack Rodwell and Kyle Walker. Tomorrow he will launch Daniel Sturridge in international football. Bobby Zamora will probably be granted his first England start.

No one could accuse Capello of not working every angle but the shape of his squad for 2012 is by no means clear. Joe Hart, Ashley Cole and, in all likelihood, Scott Parker look assured of their places. John Terry, despite the excellent performances of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, would probably come back into the side. You have to assume that a fit Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere would both play although they have never been on a pitch together for England.

Possibilities at right-back range from Glen Johnson to Chris Smalling, Jones and Walker before you even raise the possibility that Capello might change his mind about Micah Richards before May. Central midfield options run from sticking with the tried and marginally well-trusted Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry to risking youngsters Tom Cleverley and Rodwell. Perm four from Ashley Young, Adam Johnson, Walcott, Stewart Downing, James Milner and Aaron Lennon for the wide positions.

The choice of four strikers is hardly more clear-cut. If Rooney is a certainty to be selected for the squad, then who else? Darren Bent has probably done enough in Capello's eyes to earn a place. Then there are two from Welbeck, Sturridge, Zamora (above), Andy Carroll and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Peter Crouch remains the invisible man to Capello and we can safely disregard Jay Bothroyd.

Capello has less time than you may think to make a muddled picture clear.