Capello defends England preperations

Fabio Capello insists England's dismal performance against Montenegro at Wembley had nothing to do with the lack of a warm-up game.

Although England did not have a competitive match on Friday, it would have been possible for Capello to arrange a friendly to get some additional match practice into his players.

Instead, the Italian opted to give them extra time off and they only met at their Watford base on Thursday night.

The move did not appear to work given England lost a player to injury on every day of their build-up, and then failed to show any signs of life in last night's Euro 2012 qualifier as an 11-match winning streak on home soil came to an end.

However, Capello denied the lack of an additional match was a factor in the dull draw that triggered loud boos from the 72,000 home fans.

"I made the right decision not to have a warm-up game," he said.

"There are no problems. I always prepare the same for every game.

"I just hope all the players will be fit for the next one against Wales."

Capello does have a point.

Taking into account injuries, suspensions and retirements, England lost an entire team before kick-off, including central defenders and strikers who were earmarked for starting berths.

That Darren Bent got as far as the pre-match training session before pulling out with a calf problem can hardly have helped Capello's planning, and the sight of Sunderland's free-scoring forward sat in the stands alongside Jermain Defoe - also injured - was a reminder of the raw pace England so badly lacked against a side whose smothering tactics worked to perfection.

"In the first half we tried to play," highlighted Capello.

"We used possession to try to find space and kept losing the ball, so it was impossible to create chances.

"In the second half we used more long balls and we attacked the space."

Capello's comments indicated that his team were more of a threat after the interval than they had been before.

Yet, while it was true that Wayne Rooney had a couple of opportunities repelled by fine saves from Mladen Bozovic, it could also be claimed England's best opportunity fell to Peter Crouch before the break, which he headed over the bar.

With Ashley Young and, to a lesser extent, Adam Johnson, failing to penetrate from wider positions on their first competitive starts, it left England bereft of ideas in a game where the pattern was set after about 10 minutes and never really changed.

Given the wounds of that abysmal World Cup campaign are still so raw, little wonder therefore that Capello found himself fending off questions about his future, even if he did not entirely understand why.

"It is one game," he countered. "We have to play another five.

"I think we are a good team but you have to accept what can happen in football.

"It is not boxing where you win by punching the opponent more often."

What England have now are friendlies against France and Argentina - the latter still to be formally announced but pencilled in for Copenhagen in February - in which Capello can experiment.

He admitted last night he had been sorely tempted to introduce Jack Wilshere's more creative talents, only to back off due to the sheer physicality of the visitors' approach.

Capello has also confirmed his preference for Rio Ferdinand and John Terry as his preferred central defensive partnership, which must be a bit of a blow for Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, who have done well in their recent outings.

Some of Capello's thinking still appears muddled.

Why last night for instance, did Young and Johnson not switch wings? How come Bent - dumped from his World Cup squad and still to be chosen to start a competitive match - is suddenly a key figure in his plans?

Yet through the haze, the manager insists he can see light.

Even he accepts the journey is not entirely straightforward.

"We are lucky to have players of vast experience who can help bring forward this next generation," said Capello.

"For many players who are making their first steps in international football, we must handle them carefully and give them every assistance to develop fully."

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