England players are happy insists Capello

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The Independent Football

England manager Fabio Capello insisted today his relationship with his players is "really good" ahead of tomorrow's crunch World Cup clash with Slovenia.

And the Italian claimed he never contemplated dropping John Terry following the defender's choice to raise a number of grievances within the squad in a public forum on Sunday rather than behind closed doors.

"John Terry is one of the most important players," Capello said.

Asked about his relationship with the players, he added: "Really good, because every time when I speak with the players they follow me.

"The players are happy. They trained very well.

"I think it's normal to have pressure at the moment. We have a play-off to be in or out. We have to win."

Captain Steven Gerrard, who described the game against Slovenia as "do or die", claimed Terry's outburst is not affecting the players.

"He's gone out and said what he said but I think it's time to move on," said the Liverpool midfielder.

"As captain it's important I switch attention to the game as it's a do-or-die situation.

"Training was very good and sharp this morning so we need to go out and do the business."

Capello also backed Wayne Rooney to up his game following recent criticism of his below-par performances, especially in the goalless draw with Algeria.

"I spoke a lot of time with Rooney and he is an important player for us," said Capello.

"Sometimes the pressure is so big, also for the important players. He improved in the last three days during training. I am sure tomorrow he will play really well."

Rooney has faced criticism in some quarters for voicing his displeasure at the England fans booing the team off the pitch after the Algeria game.

Gerrard sympathises with the supporters and revealed the team are desperate to put on a better performance tomorrow in order to get them back on side.

"I can certainly understand," he said. "We came into this tournament with big expectations.

"People have paid good money and expect us to win football matches so we as players take responsibility for underperforming in the last game and the idea is try to put in a good performance tomorrow, win the game and change the perception of how we've done so far.

"We want to make the nation proud and happy. A good win tomorrow would certainly give the people more confidence.

"You can see that the players hurt from the Algeria performance. We let the country down by underperforming and we want to put that right.

"I can see the hunger in the guys, we can't wait for the game to start to put it right because we haven't enjoyed the past couple of days - the criticism and that feeling you get when you've underperformed and you've not done yourself justice."