Capello encouraged by England focus

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The Independent Online

England manager Fabio Capello has been encouraged by the performance of his players in training in the wake of the negative headlines surrounding the camp in recent weeks.

Lurid headlines regarding John Terry's private life and his subsequent removal as captain of the national team have dominated the agenda.

Steven Gerrard will captain the side against Egypt tomorrow in the absence of the injured Rio Ferdinand, who was promoted to skipper following Terry's demotion.

Wayne Bridge's decision to make himself unavailable for selection for the national team amid reports Terry had an affair with his former partner has also cast a cloud over the camp, but Capello has been pleased with the response this week.

"I spoke with the players and said they have to recreate the spirit of the team and train with focus," Capello explained.

"I'm really happy because I saw the same thing as in November [in the friendly against Brazil in Doha]."

There are fears of a fans' backlash against Terry at Wembley tomorrow, but Capello has joined with striker Wayne Rooney in urging Three Lions supporters not to give the Chelsea skipper a hard time.

"I think the fans have to support every moment," he said.

"You have to understand that privately some players were not so good, but on the pitch it is different.

"We wear the England shirt and it is really important they help us every moment.

"I hope that tomorrow the crowd help us and do not boo him."

On Terry's mental state ahead of the game, Capello added: "He is training very well.

"He will be the same player in the dressing room. I told him you have to do the same things as a captain."

Asked whether he could potentially perform a u-turn over the decision to strip Terry of the captaincy, the Italian replied: "I think no. I think the next captain will be Rio. For tomorrow, the captain will be Steven Gerrard."

Capello expects an "interesting" match tomorrow.

"We hope to play very well and we invite the fans to help us," he said.

"It's not easy to win the African Nations Cup three times if you are not a good team. I watched Egypt's games and it is a really, really good team. They are dangerous, they are really well organised on the pitch who know what to do in every moment.

"I think it will be a really interesting test for us."

Capello was pleased with his players' performance in training today after speaking to them following recent off-field issues.

"I was really happy with the players, they understood exactly what I wanted," he said. "The most important thing is the leaders, during training on the pitch, were there in every moment today."

Capello emphasised his belief that players' actions on the field are of paramount importance.

"The important thing is how the players perform on the pitch and not what happens outside," he said, before defending Terry's performances against Inter Milan last week and Manchester City on Saturday.

"I saw the two games he played in Milan and at home to Manchester City. He played his normal game but always, when the player's team loses, the journalists try to find something about the most important player. I think he played very well in the two games."

Capello also spoke in support of defender Ryan Shawcross after the Stoke player's dismissal for the tackle which resulted in Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey's horrific leg break.

"I selected him before the game, which I watched on television," said the Italian. "I think the tackle was really hard, I'm upset for the Arsenal players, it was a really strong tackle but not to (intentionally) break the leg of the other player.

"I spoke twice to him, he's young and it's his first time with us. It's a little bit different for him and I'm happy he's here. I think to stay with us will help him to forget what happened."

Capello refused to be drawn on Bridge's decision not to shake hands with Terry prior to City's 4-2 win over Chelsea on Saturday, but reiterated the door to the national team remains open for the left-back.

"It is a private problem, not my problem," said Capello.

"The door is always open and if Wayne Bridge wants to come back, the door is always open. Not only for him - for all the players. We are monitoring all the players."

The England boss also defended the omission of Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole from his squad, saying: "I saw a lot of the games Joe played after injury. He played so-so.

"The last game he played very well. He needs to play more games like that and if he does he will be here, probably."

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