Fabio Capello is following the season climax closely.
England Manager Fabio Capello has provided a candid insight into some of the most pressing issues facing the national squad in the lead up to the World Cup.
As the season reaches its climax, Capello has been maintaining his meticulous eye on all the variables that may affect the Three Lions’ preparations for South Africa 2010. From the Champions League to the fitness of his players, the Italian is set for a hectic couple of months that will end with him naming his 23-man squad.
Who will make that 23 is still very much up for debate but Capello will have raised the hopes of one youngster who has been making an impact in the Premier League.
“Adam Johnson [has caught my eye this season]. He's come up from the Championship at Middlesbrough, where he played in a different position, and he's done well with Manchester City. Now it's important he gets some international experience," said Capello.
The former Under-21 winger may be yet to prove himself at senior international level but many of those who are already in Capello’s reckoning will be keen to maintain their best form right up until the end of the season to give them the best chance of going to the summer tournament. None, however, will be partaking in the final rounds of the UEFA Champions League – an unusual situation compared to recent years.
“The only advantage [of all English teams being knocked out of the Champions League] is that all the England players will be available for the start of our preparation in Austria. But it is only a relative advantage. When players win trophies they are happier, and I believe in positive psychology.
“It’s too early to say [whether I am happy with the state of my squad], you can never be sure at this time of the season, many unexpected things can happen. I just hope the players who are out injured will recover by the end of the season,” he said.
But Capello knows that the fitness of players like Ashley Cole relies heavily on their clubs and he is confident the decisions made will be in the best interests of the player, the club and, consequently, the national team.
“If Ashley Cole comes back by the end of the season it means he's fit. He'll need to play, but this is a better problem than having to get someone back to fitness.
“I just hope for the best, even crossing fingers does not seem to prevent injuries. I do not resort to this, anyway. But the main thing would be, between the start of our preparation and the start of the World Cup, for all the England players to recover the form and freshness which allow us to do well in the qualifying matches.
“[I don’t worry for any particular player], I follow them all, some play more, some less, but I keep an eye on everybody.
“[I don’t personally check their conditions], that is the responsibility of the England medical staff. Our doctor is in daily contact with the club doctors, we know the situation in real time. It would not make sense for me to speak to club doctors, or to the players, we would not get the full picture. I speak to the players if I run into them at matches, but certainly not to assess their health.”
So the first obstacle is a fit squad but what about the general preparation for South Africa? Is the man in charge happy with the way things are progressing?
“At the start of May, Franco Baldini and other FA officials will go back [to South Africa] for the final check, so we shall have a definite appraisal, but things are proceeding well in Rustenburg."