England in line to face Brazilians
Early qualification for World Cup finals would allow high-profile friendly in Qatar
Fabio Capello and the Football Association will be given the option of a friendly against Brazil in Qatar in November providing the England team have qualified for the World Cup finals by then. The high-profile friendly between what would potentially be two of the biggest teams at next summer's tournament would be an attractive PR exercise for the Gulf state.
After a victory over Andorra on Wednesday night left England 10 points clear in Group Six, there is an expectation that they will be free for the international break scheduled for the middle of November. It is then that the play-offs will take place for the remaining places in South Africa while they will be at liberty to choose a friendly opposition.
It would not be the first time in recent years that they have played a friendly at a neutral ground during the season: in November 2005 England played a lucrative game against Argentina in Geneva having already qualified for the 2006 World Cup finals. National teams are obliged to leave that slot in the fixture schedule free until they qualify, which means that they can earn extra revenue on top of existing television contracts.
Capello will travel to South Africa next week to watch the Fifa Confederations Cup and also scout the remaining three alternatives for England's base camp that his assistants and FA officials have identified. With his first season of World Cup qualifiers having been such a success, the England manager said that his future beyond the tournament next summer would not be allowed to become an issue.
Capello, 62, has a four-and-a-half year contract although it is understood that there is an option for both parties to review it after the World Cup finals. Understandably, Capello said that he would not countenance any discussion of his future before then. "My future a distraction? No, it's impossible," he said. "Don't worry. Every time I have been clear in my decisions."
The England manager also left the door open to emerging players like Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Tom Huddlestone and James Milner to break into the squad in time for next summer. Young won his fourth cap under Capello as a second-half substitute on Wednesday night in the 6-0 win over Andorra.
"I am really happy for Ashley Young. He played the first game against Switzerland [February 2008] and against Andorra he played with confidence, like he does with Aston Villa. The other times he played with fear. It was not the same. I spoke to him and said, 'You have to play the way you do with your team.' It is important to have another player who can play at any moment."
John Terry said that the next World Cup could well be the last chance that some of England's biggest names get to play in the tournament. He also urged young uncapped English players who were not getting into their club sides to move in order to get games so they could put pressure on the existing squad.
"It's also important for young players to break through at club level," he said. "We need English players to get their chance and if they're not getting that then they need to get out and go somewhere where they will play regular football. Don't be content and happy just to stay at a club and earn your money. When I was younger I wanted to go out on loan, fight for my place and then come back. It was the same with Lampsy [Frank Lampard]".
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