The England players' hopes of a new, more relaxed post-World Cup regime under Fabio Capello were dealt a blow yesterday when they asked their manager for permission to play golf in the sunshine and were told instead to spend the afternoon in their hotel rooms.
From their rooms in the Grove hotel outside Watford in the Hertfordshire countryside, Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Co were able to see the championship-standard course outside but that was as close as they got to playing on it.
While there has been a relaxing of the stricter Capello edicts around the squad that were judged so counter-productive during their austere stay in South Africa, the England manager appears unwilling to budge on certain measures. The England players could be seen on the course on Tuesday afternoon but there was to be no licence to do the same yesterday.
One of the major differences between Capello and his players has been his insistence that they spend free time in their hotel rooms rather than being allowed to go where they please around the hotel and its grounds as they are often permitted to do when travelling with their club sides.
All the England squad apart from Aaron Lennon trained at Arsenal's London Colney headquarters yesterday behind closed doors and it is anticipated that Lennon will be available for selection come Saturday.
Both Jack Wilshere of Arsenal and Liverpool's Andy Carroll, strong candidates to start Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier, turned down requests from the media to speak to them yesterday at the team hotel. It was not clear whether their reluctance to do so was the work of the players' agents discouraging them or the players themselves being disinclined to do so.
With the phoney war having already started between the two sides, James Milner responded to Robbie Savage's claim via Twitter that Craig Bellamy could run faster "backwards" than John Terry. "He is going to say those things and try and give them confidence as he wants them to win," Milner said. "We have to prove him wrong and stick to our game. I am sure JT has had worse said about him."
On the captaincy debate, Milner said: "Fabio made the decision and told us and obviously no one's got a problem with it at all."
The Football Association is aware of the fact that many England fans travelling to Cardiff are planning to take inflatable sheep with them to taunt their rival supporters. The governing body did not offer a view on the matter.Reuse content