Capello: beat Swedes or Spain win is irrelevant
England must cope with starting as favourites as manager switches line-up and tactics
Fabio Capello has warned his England squad that their victory over world champions Spain on Saturday will count for little unless they can beat the less formidable Sweden team whom they face at Wembley tomorrow. Capello will pick John Terry as his captain for tomorrow's game and the Chelsea defender will fulfil his obligations to give a captain's press conference this lunchtime although he will be unable to comment on the police investigation into allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
In the meantime, Capello has insisted that his team will have to undergo a major shift in approach and personnel from the one deployed to such effect against the world champions. He has promised to give a debut to Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, as well as pledging that Jack Rodwell, Bobby Zamora and Kyle Walker will all feature at some point.
The England manager said that his team's greatest challenge against Sweden tonight will be shifting from the role of underdogs against Spain to favourites against the team ranked 14th in the world. As it stands, the Football Association expect Wembley to be well under capacity tomorrow with a crowd of between 45,000 and 50,000.
Capello said: "The really important thing when you think the opponents are better than you is that you have to play at the top [of your game]. Your concentration is right at that level all game [as well as] the focus. But what is difficult is when you play a team who thinks you are better than them [i.e. Sweden]. Then you really need to be able to play at that top level. Do you understand? This is the change we need to make.
"Playing Sweden on Tuesday will be a really difficult game for us because I know Sweden. They [keep their shape] really well on the pitch, the movement when they defend is very good and then they play on the counter-attack. They will make it a really difficult game.
"Also, now, after we have beaten Spain, they will come here thinking we are good, at the next level, so they know they will have to play better – and so will we. This is the next step, the really important one, that we have to take if we want to go forward and improve."
Capello conceded that England's performance against Spain, albeit it with only 29.4 per cent of the possession, had indicated to him that there was a new era in the England team. Certainly, it now looks as if Rio Ferdinand will find it difficult to break back into the team, with Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka making such powerful cases for inclusion.
Capello picked out Rodwell, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Walker for praise. Asked whether it was the beginning of a new era, he said: "Yes, I think it was an important night for England. I remember, as a manager, I put a lot of times young players, [Daniele] De Rossi and others, into my team and you could see if a player has the confidence, on their first time with that team as they had before. That is what is so important.
"They had been in the academy before but now, with the seniors, if they could play the same way, this is important. The players who played against Spain played the same way they have done in the past, with their clubs. I think, from my experience, they are now ready."
With the Republic of Ireland taking a major step towards qualification for Euro 2012 with a 4-0 win over Estonia in Tallinn on Friday, the Irish Football Association have indicated their desire to play England in a May friendly in Dublin. The game would only be possible if the two sides are not placed in the same group in next month's Euro 2012 draw.
It would be the first time the two countries have faced each other since a match at Lansdowne Road in February 1995 had to be abandoned with the Irish one goal ahead when trouble – caused by English fans – broke out in the stadium. England are also set to play a reciprocal friendly against Sweden next November in Stockholm's new Swedbank national stadium, currently being built.
The FA have confirmed that Ray Clemence, one of two goalkeeping coaches, missed Saturday's game against Spain through illness.
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