Fabio Capello last night welcomed Newcastle's Andy Carroll into the England squad with the unfortunate epithet "fighter" and a warning that he will need to change his behaviour off the field.
Capello needed the go-ahead from Club England's chief executive, Adrian Bevington, before picking the 21-year-old striker, who is on bail after being charged with assaulting a former girlfriend. One of the bail conditions was that he lives with Newcastle's captain Kevin Nolan, which did not prevent further lurid headlines after they celebrated a recent 5-1 victory over Sunderland. Carroll has also been fined £1,000 after pleading guilty to common assault in a nightclub.
He was left out of the Under-21 squad for last month's key qualifying matches against Romania, in what was understood to be a disciplinary measure. Now Capello hopes all the immaturity will dissolve as he takes on responsibilities at the higher level, which could bring a first cap against France in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley. England's reward would be a genuine No 9 more powerful than Peter Crouch and more subtle than Kevin Davies, the main strikers in an unsatisfactory goalless draw with Montenegro a month ago.
After scoring 17 goals in the Championship last season, Carroll has flourished in the Premier League, a hat-trick at home to Aston Villa in August bringing him to the attention of England's staff.
"He is good in the air," Capello said. "He has good movement without the ball. He finds space. Technically he is good. He is a fighter." For a disciplinarian, Capello was surprisingly tolerant of Carroll's lapses. "He is young," he said several times. "It is very important for him to stay [with] the seniors here because we have a lot of important players who can stay with him and speak with him about the area outside the pitch. I think that is important. But he is only young. Everyone, when they are young, make mistakes. I don't know him very well, I have to speak with him. I hope that his private life will be better. I hope it will improve. He has to understand that he is a player for the senior team and you have to be careful at every moment."
Like most Italians arrivingin English football, Capello is bewildered by the game's drinking culture. "In Italy and Spain, I know the life of the players," he said. "They like to drink when they eat, during dinner. Not after. Here a lot of people drink. It is normal here. Probably if the player drinks a lot his career will be shorter. This is important. The player has to understand this."
What they also must realise, he believes, is that they are at the mercy of mobile phones. "Now it is different. You can know everything about what happens in someone's private life because of the mobile. It can record all the time. It can take pictures. You can find everything on Facebook etc. This is the worst."
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, three years younger but the more mature of the two, has again been picked, the warning to him concerning footballing matters only: that he must adapt from Arsenal's Spanish-style passing to something less intricate with England. "Here is not the same," Capello said. "He has to understand what he has to do here. In a really short time it is impossible to learn everything. For this reason it will be interesting for him to stay with us and play for however long it is."
Wayne Rooney was not selected because of his ankle injury and David Beckham, although in good form and still being monitored, has sensibly been left with LA Galaxy, who play Dallas in today's Western Conference play-off final.
Of the younger players, Capello, who will use up to six substitutes, says: "You have to be careful about the decision to put young players into such a difficult game. It can harm the players. For this reason you have to put the young players and new players into the team with a lot of seniors."Reuse content