Capello ponders Heskey-Defoe debate

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The Independent Football

England manager Fabio Capello admits he has "more or less" made up his mind over whether to play Emile Heskey or Jermain Defoe in tomorrow night's crucial World Cup qualifier against Croatia at Wembley.

Capello has seen Tottenham striker Defoe score five goals in three substitute appearance, but the physical presence of Aston Villa frontman Heskey could give him the nod against Slaven Bilic's men, where a win would see England safely through to South Africa next summer.

"More or less, I have decided in my mind," said the England manager at this afternoon's media conference at Arsenal's London Colney training ground.

"Heskey and Defoe are both really important for me, each has a different style, but are both really important.

"We will be playing at home and Croatia will play in a different style. We have to prepare for a different game."

Capello dismissed any talk of revenge from the failure to reach Euro 2008 when Croatia recorded a infamous victory at Wembley, which ended Steve McClaren's reign.

"That match is too old, it was too long ago. It is history," declared the Italian when asked if he had watched the game as part of his planning for tomorrow.

"I prefer to look at the next game. I do not speak about a game that they played two years ago. I have to motivate the players for tomorrow, not what happened two years ago.

"They will go into this game thinking about how we won in Croatia."

Capello added: "We have three finals to play now - tomorrow will be the first, after will be in Ukraine, then the last at home to Belarus.

"We have to win one or draw some. But the most important thing is to arrive first in the group to get to the World Cup.

"We are playing well at Wembley, have won all the games and play with confidence.

"I am sure that will be the same tomorrow."

Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson has been singled out for what most observers felt was a poor showing in the friendly against Slovenia at Wembley on Saturday, when most of the visitors best attacks, including the one which brought their goal, came down his flank.

Manchester City's £25m centre-back Joleon Lescott, on as a substitute for Matthew Upson, also did not have the best of matches as Zlatan Ljubijankic headed in a consolation goal.

Capello, though, re-iterated his support for Johnson.

"Sometimes there are mistakes, but he is one of the best right-backs in the world," said the England manager.

Capello added: "The players know when they make a mistake, I am not angry - I am angry when they do not do what we have prepared for in training."

The Italian also questioned why any of the England side should be jeered by the fans, Lescott the latest target.

"I do not understand why they boo Lescott," he said. "Our fans have to help the players, not boo. All the players are in the England team and you have to support them."