Fabio Capello yesterday made clear his intention to take a hardline approach to England players' discipline by laying down a code of behaviour when the squad meets up next week for the first time since the sacking of John Terry as captain and the allegations about Ashley Cole's private life.
The subterfuge around Cole's alleged infidelities has caused Chelsea to consider disciplining the player and Capello left no room for doubt yesterday after his brief stay in South Africa when he said that the players would know what was expected of them. "The players have to understand what I want if they want to stay with me," he said.
In the last three weeks Capello has had to deal with the fallout from Terry's affair with the ex-fiancée of Wayne Bridge and the repercussions that may have in the squad. Capello said he will remind his squad when they meet ahead of the 3 March friendly against Egypt of the standards of behaviour that he introduced when he took over more than two years ago.
While the England manager said he will remind the players of their responsibilities he was also keen to point out that repairing the damage to ensure a tightly-knit squad with a good spirit was now his biggest priority. "The World Cup is really important for me, for England and for the players," he said. "We have to stay together and be compact in every moment. This will be my most important job to recreate the spirit."
Asked about his concerns over the behaviour of English footballers in general, Capello said: "That's your job, not mine. I read a lot of things. [When the players are] on the pitch it is different. Off the pitch everyone can do their different things.
"The players have to understand what I want if they want to stay with me. It will be very important because we need to create a group. We need the squad. It is a really important adventure. For me this will be one of the most important points that we speak about [next month]."
As for the question of whether Terry and Bridge can play in the same team, Capello said for the first time yesterday that he would have no hesitation in picking both of them in the squad to play Egypt which is announced on Saturday. Bridge is known to be in two minds about whether to retire from international football, so unhappy is he at his treatment from Terry.
Asked whether he would select Wayne Bridge, Capello said: "Yes, Wayne Bridge, why not? He's the No 2 left-back. The best is [Ashley] Cole and Bridge, they are the best left-backs.
"He [Bridge] will be with us, no problems about the 'other things' [Bridge and Terry's fallout]. When we are together at the Grove hotel [England's base] I will speak with the players before the game [in person]. I don't like to speak by phone. I went to Manchester and spoke with [Roberto] Mancini about the players in his team and I know a lot of things."
Should Bridge wish to withdraw from international football he will need to do so before Capello names a provisional squad tomorrow. As for Cole's injury, Capello said that he was confident that the Chelsea left-back's fractured left ankle would be healed in time to play in the World Cup.
"I have spoken with Carlo Ancelotti and our doctor has spoken with the Chelsea doctor," he said. "We hope he will be fit in two months. I think he will be ready for the World Cup." Capello declared himself "really happy" with England's unfinished Royal Bafokeng training camp in Phokeng outside Rustenburg and said that he believed the pitches would be up to standard in time for the squad's arrival on 3 June. However, as Fifa and the local organising committee launched an attack on British newspapers, including The Independent, for reporting Bafokeng's state more problems emerged.
The Bafokeng story has become a major issue in South Africa and a matter of local pride. However, even the home team, South Africa, have not yet announced where they will be training after rejecting their original base. It has also emerged that Serbia have had to pick a venue that was not on the original Fifa list.Reuse content