A testing week, but what have England learnt?


So can we put those England weekend fitness concerns behind us now?

Not really, because yesterday was full of the kind of injury niggles which persist around the camp. Rio Ferdinand appeared to be labouring for a time in the second half yesterday, though he had apparently run off the problem by the end. Steven Gerrard was also limping after taking a blow to the ankle during his second-half display. Then the England manager, Fabio Capello, contributed to confusion about Gerrard's fitness by suggesting there had been a problem with his knee. Gerrard is also known to have had a problem with his calf, which needed physio on Friday. Capello also said that Gerrard's injury was "only a small problem", though the Liverpool captain was first off the pitch in the company of a team doctor. We will know tomorrow whether Gareth Barry will be fit to be play Algeria and Slovenia. Problems, problems.



Who will be feeling most aggrieved if he misses out on a place in the final 23?

Tom Huddlestone is a gentle individual, not inclined to feelings of bitterness, but there have been several semantic clues from Capello in the past 48 hours that he might miss out. First, Capello spoke positively about Michael Carrick on Saturday; then he said nothing anyone achieved against Japan had dissuaded him from his original notions about the final 23. Yet the quality of Huddlestone's distribution yesterday was far better than Carrick's had been against Mexico on Monday. The Tottenham player, whose passing was once compared by George Burley to Glenn Hoddle, seemingly needed to distribute at something like Hoddle's level to convince the England manager. It was a tall order.



What did yesterday's game tell us about the Jabulani ball which is to be used at the World Cup?

That it is seriously difficult to keep goal against and that long-range efforts are going to cause goalkeepers trouble. The Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima was the one to suffer yesterday, when a 20-yard free-kick from Frank Lampard dipped late and fooled him, causing him to spill the ball. England did not create opportunities to try more shots at range but Gerrard's technical ability with a dead ball will add to his value to Capello.

Should we be worrying about penalties after Frank Lampard's miss?

It doesn't settle the nerves to see Lampard missing two penalties in 15 days and the neurotics will be worried to know that two of the three players with a 100 per cent success rate in a penalty shoot-out practice at altitude in Irdning on Friday were Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adam Johnson – neither of whom may make the 23-man squad – with John Terry being the third. Lampard, who received words of advice on this subject from Capello on Friday, scored four out of five against Joe Hart in the shoot-out and we should expect him to continue taking them. Capello has been very rigid in his instructions to his players, telling them to make their minds up where to place the ball before taking the kick, rather than attempting to respond to a goalkeeper. "I'll always want to take them and, though it wasn't a great penalty, it's disappointing because I've practised loads this week," Lampard explained last night. "I'm always confident in taking them and that will make me go away and work even harder now."

Is Fabio Capello going to spend the tournament with his mind on a move to Massimo Moratti's Internazionale?

The issue may well be cleared up with a conference call between Capello, in northern Italy, and the FA's new Club England team today, but there is historical evidence to suggest that Capello dislikes Moratti and that mere manoeuvring on the manager's part is keeping the story going. Capello has been approached by Moratti on at least four occasions in the past, most recently in April 2006 just before Italy's Calciopoli scandal ruined Juventus, whom Capello was managing. It came to nothing because Capello wanted a level of control Moratti would not provide. "He asked me lots of questions but then, just before the last week of the season, he told me he wasn't going to take things any further," Capello said in May 2008. "I think that Moratti secretly wants to manage the club himself."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test