Liverpool accept that Capello had to break Gerrard agreement

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The Independent Online

Liverpool yesterday backed down in their row with Fabio Capello over Steven Gerrard's injury when the club's new football director Damien Comolli accepted the England manager's explanation that he had no choice but to break an informal agreement limiting the player's involvement in Wednesday's game.

Comolli spoke to Franco Baldini, Capello's general manager, after the match and was told that Capello had to keep Gerrard on the pitch after an ankle injury to Gareth Barry severely curtailed his midfield options. Gerrard will now miss up to four weeks, Liverpool announced yesterday, after eventually limping off in the 85th minute of France's 2-1 friendly win.

Gerrard is understood to be angry that he had to play on in the second half after an agreement limiting him to an hour's participation maximum – but he was asked by Capello if he would mind playing on in the circumstances and chose to do so.

Darren Burgess, head of fitness and conditioning at Liverpool, whose outburst on Twitter told of the club's anger on Wednesday night has also apologised to the Football Association which he said was "completely amateurish" and "disgraceful". Burgess has spoken to Capello's head physiotherapist Gary Lewin to apologise.

According to the Capello camp, Comolli understands why Capello was forced to continue with Gerrard and although Liverpool are bitterly disappointed at the injury to their captain they bear none of the malice and anger expressed by Burgess in his original tweets.

Capello said on Wednesday night that he would speak to Roy Hodgson if the Liverpool manager wanted an explanation as why Gerrard was kept on the pitch as long as he was.

Capello said: "When you play, like we did, with a lot of young players and do not have a lot of old players, senior players, with experience you need your captain [Rio Ferdinand had been substituted by then]. I will speak with him [Hodgson]. After, he will be happy or not happy. But I know that Steven is a really important player."

In the light of a disappointing performance, Capello has told his advisors that he believes Andy Carroll has an international future but that he will not be ready to play for England regularly in the short-term and is unlikely to reach that level before Capello's contract expires at the end of Euro 2012.

The England manager was impressed with elements of Carroll's performance but the Capello camp does not feel that he currently merits a place in the team when the Euro 2012 qualifiers start again against Wales in March. In general, they believe that Wednesday's performance laid to rest the notion that England had a new batch of players waiting to slot into the national team.

Their intention was to test the resources of the players beyond the current crop who have been in place for the last six years or so and, having seen Jordan Henderson, Carroll and Kieran Gibbs they feel more strongly than ever that for the Euro 2012 campaign they are best served sticking with the same nucleus of players as played at the last World Cup finals.

Capello has said that he will persevere with the younger players for the friendly against Argentina in February in Copenhagen but that the experiment will end after that. If fit, the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard are likely to come back into the side for the Wales game. Nevertheless, Capello and his assistants regard Wednesday's game as a useful pointer.

With 13 senior players missing on Wednesday night, the Capello camp was aware of the risks they were taking in picking such a young side. Capello said: "I spoke in the dressing room with the young players, they now understand when I told them: 'That is the difference between when you play for your club in the Premier League or when you play for the Under-21s and for the senior [England] team'.

"It's a big difference, because of the pressure, because of the players you have to play against, the value is really high. For this reason, the players need to learn something, they need experience. This is very important.

"They are really good players. I think the next game they will play better. It was not easy for all the players, not only for him [Henderson]. You could see the difficulties for the important [senior] players. They lost the passes, they lost some easy balls."