Milner catches Capello's eye

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The Independent Online

England boss Fabio Capello has hinted at midfielder James Milner being the next Aston Villa youngster to be called into his squad.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have taken the plaudits as Villa challenge for a place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League - but Capello's eye has also been caught by Milner.

"I'm very happy for players that play with Aston Villa," Capello said.

"They are young players and are performing. The other young player I like is Milner. He is the future, my future."

Capello could look at Milner, who holds the record for Under-21 caps but is yet to figure in the senior squad, during a proposed friendly against Spain in two months' time or the clash against Slovenia in March.

The England boss is looking to maintain the momentum of this season's World Cup qualifiers, with four wins from four on the path to South Africa.

Their last finals were undermined by Wayne Rooney's red card in the quarter-final against Portugal, but Capello insists there is no problem with the Manchester United forward's temperament, despite his clash with Aalborg's Kasper Risgard last week.

"When he played with us he was aggressive but not unfair with opposing players," Capello said.

"He was strong, not unfair. This is important. He is a very important player for us."

The Italian insists he will consider Michael Owen for future matches if the Newcastle striker is fit.

Owen, who scored his ninth of the season in his club's win at Portsmouth this weekend, is England's top scorer currently playing but has not started a game under Capello.

"I will watch him in January and after that I will decide if he is okay for the next squad," Capello said.

"The most important thing for him will be his fitness because the last three times I selected squads he was not fit."

Fitness will also be what Capello checks when he decides on whether to give David Beckham the chance to earn his 108th cap, which would equal Bobby Moore's record for an outfield player.

"If he plays for AC Milan, it's possible. If he doesn't play then he will not be in the squad," Capello said. "It's the same for all the players. I will decide after talking to the coaches, not on sympathy."

Beckham has been used mainly off the bench during Capello's successful first year as England boss.

Capello, 62, revealed the turning point of his reign was the defeat to France at the Stade de France in March.

"I said to them after the game 'I'm happy because you made a step forward,"' Capello said.

"The players thought I was crazy but I was happy because we played against France, World Cup runners-up, in Paris and for half an hour played very well.

"When we can play for half an hour we can play like that for the whole game. This is why, after this game, I felt we went forward."

Capello admitted that being England boss has been as much about psychiatry as it is tactics.

"When you work for just two days it's not enough but it is important to be a psychologist - but you have to have good players too," he said.

"If you are a good psychologist but have bad players, it's impossible to win.

"I'm very happy. We started from the bottom and worked up better and better every game. We have arrived at a good level but we have to work more.

"I'm happy with the results and happy with what we did to create the group mentality and the skills.

"We have recovered the confidence and that was the most important work."

Capello also had to change his players' mentality when fans were sceptical during home matches.

"When we played the first game against Switzerland I understood it," he said. "In training the players were fantastic, physical, everything, with confidence. But playing at Wembley they were not the same players.

"I understood in that moment what happened in their minds. That's what makes the next game at Wembley very important."

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