England to play Egypt friendly

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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello will launch his World Cup preparations on March 3 when England take on Egypt at Wembley.

As soon as the draw was completed in Cape Town earlier this month, Capello made it a priority to secure Egypt as the Three Lions' next opponents in the planning to face Algeria in their second Group C game in South Africa next year.

England do not have much experience of north African opposition and have never faced Algeria, who beat Egypt in a stormy play-off in Sudan to reach next summer's Final.

Capello wants to put that right and felt Egypt were the obvious side to gain it against under the circumstances.

The last meeting with Egypt came during Italia 90, when Mark Wright's single goal was enough to secure victory in Cagliari. A repeat would represent a historic 500th victory for England.

Given Capello's legendary attention to detail, it is slightly surprising he will not be at the African Nations Cup in Angola next month to watch Algeria in action personally.

However, trusted assistant Franco Baldini will be present at some point, with the Algerians set to face Malawi, Mali and Angola in the group stage.

Capello is also trying to arrange a friendly with Mexico in May, which will serve as a warm-up to the opening game against the United States, before playing a final friendly, likely to be against Japan, at the end of a pre-tournament training camp in Austria.

However, it will be January at the earliest when further friendlies - and the precise dates for the altitude training at Irdning - can be confirmed.

It is also thought Capello intends to leave for South Africa earlier than planned - on June 2 - to give his players additional time at their Rustenburg training base, although that too has not received an official seal of approval after the Italian complained about the standard of the training pitches.

However, as Capello is not due back in South Africa until March, by which time a final decision will have had to be made, Rustenburg is an obvious location, particularly as their opening game against the United States will be played there on June 12, as well as a potential last 16 clash, providing England win their group.

Meanwhile, the FA today moved to distance themselves from reports that they are upset with John Terry, reiterating the fact that Capello manages the team and makes decisions on players.

The England manager has remained silent on the issue and seems unlikely to make any public comment.

An FA spokesman said: "Only Fabio Capello manages the England team and he has made no comment on this matter."

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has publicly stated he has no problem with Terry and, while the FA are keen to stay out of the argument, high-ranking sources within the organisation are happy for team matters to be left in Capello's hands and have no intention of intervening in this instance.

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