Wanted: Goals. Lots Of Them.

It’s back to the World Cup after a month or so off, so a quick recap on the overall position: we’re level on points with Montenegro and Poland but have an inferior goal difference to the Montenegrins. After San Marino we have to play Poland in Warsaw next Tuesday: for those of us that have reached a certain age, playing Poland in the World Cup is a bitter sweet experience that ranges from the realisation that Bobby Moore’s international career was over to the joy of Gary Lineker’s hat trick in Mexico more or less saving Sir Bobby Robson’s job.

Montenegro don’t play tonight, but they have a tough looking trip to Ukraine on Tuesday, so this evening’s game is a good time to play the worst team in the world – that’s official: along with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands, San Marino are mired at the bottom of the FIFA rankings. It might also be a good time for England to find their shooting boots, as we’ve not scored more than three goals at Wembley since September 2010.

To be honest, Roy Hodgson could’ve picked a squad from the Football League that could probably beat San Marino. All but one member of their current squad play in the Sammarinese league: the exception is midfielder Mirko Palazzi, who plays for Rimini in the Italian equivalent of League 2. Most capped player is defender Damiano Vannucci and the main goalscoring threat is Andy Selva, who has bagged eight goals in 55 games since 1998 and has the honour of scoring the only goal in the only game San Marino have ever won: a 1-0 victory over Liechtenstein in 2004.

There’s not much to report from the England squad before the game other than Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand will be missing and there was a press fuelled debate about who should be captain before Wayne Rooney was given the job, but other than that this game is a good opportunity to make a statement. Both the Polish and the Dutch have reached double figures against San Marino recently and in the context of having to score as many goals as possible to ensure a first place finish, that’s tonight’s priority.

Result: England 5, San Marino 0. Considering San Marino had lost five of their last six games by more than five goals, I don’t see how this can be seen as anything other than a reasonable result. It took over 35 minutes to break the deadlock and although England ran out easy winners in the end, since 2007 only Moldova, Northern Ireland and Cyprus have beaten San Marino by scoring fewer goals. The other worrying aspect of the game – apart from Clive Tyldesley not knowing that Jakub Blaszczykowski is injured and won’t be playing for Poland next week – was that England lost Theo Walcott after ten minutes following a collision with Aldo Simoncini.

Five Youngsters That Give Hope For England At Euro 2012 and Beyond

Well, despite Wazza losing the plot yet again, England qualified for Euro 2012 last week – guest blogger Richard Smith runs the rule over some of the prospects that could make their international breakthroughs in Poland and the Ukraine next summer…

Having confirmed their place at Euro 2012 next Summer – as any England fan will acknowledge – nothing is straight forward when it comes to the “Three Lions” and tournament football there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the English National team.

Current England coach, Fabio Capello, is set to step down when his contract is up next year but with that seems to have come a series of risk averse decisions from the Italian who has been happy to call the changes in the England teams and its formation recently. A far cry from the approach to player selection and tactics that saw the side crash out of the World Cup in 2010.

Capello has handed call-ups to a number of young players when naming recent squads and with, England fans have seen some of the older, more established players not featuring, be it forced through injury (Steven Gerrard) or dropped (Lampard in the recent qualifier against Bulgaria), performances have been much better and there’s hope that this approach will continue in the build up to next summer’s European Championships and beyond, laying the solid foundations for whoever becomes the next England manager who will have the task of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Listed below are a number of emerging English players who have either featured in Capello’s recent squads or will no doubt be in contention before the end of the season, the future is certainly a lot brighter for England than it was heading to South Africa!

Phil Jones – Aged 19 (Manchester United)

With the injuries to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United, 19 year old Phil Jones has been thrust into the side early by manager Sir Alex Ferguson and has played like he has been there for years.

A very promising prospect, Jones not only can he defend like his life depends upon it, he can play football too and is an excellent reader of the game who has great pace and a first rate touch. He is so good in fact that he would not look out of place in midfield and his performances so far this season for United is sure to give Fergie a selection headache when both Ferdinand and Vidic are back fit.

With regards to his England career, he looks a ready made replacement for John Terry who will no doubt hang up his international boots after Euro 2012 but in the mean time, if Jones continues to feature and play so well for United, he’s sure to be in Capello’s plans going forward.

Tom Cleverley – Aged 22 (Manchester United)

it is a shame that Jones’s United team mate got injured so early in the season as at that time, he was playing so well that Capello could not have possibly excluded him from his next squad. It is rare for players to get Sir Alex Ferguson too excited but clearly Cleverley has; his all round ability in midfield particularly his perception has improved enormously since he returned to Old Trafford after a season long loan spell with Wigan and he now looks set for a long term future at both club and international level.

Kyle Walker – Aged 21 (Tottenham Hotspur)

Harry Redknapp has finally bowed to the pressure and has started to include this highly gifted full back in the first team at White Hart Lane. Redknapp has always liked the player but with first team opportunities hard to come by last season, Walker went on a loan spell at Aston Villa and quickly became a big hit. It was thought at one point that Villa would persuade Redknapp to part with him permanently but the Tottenham boss, recognises his profound talent and he has signed him on a long term deal. It will not be long before he gets his chance at International level and he is known to be on Capello’s radar.

Jack Rodwell – Aged 20 (Everton)

Although there is plenty of competition for places in the England midfield line up, there are many urging Capello to include Rodwell who is one of the best defensive midfielders around. There were plenty of clubs expressing interest in him in the recent transfer window but Rodwell seemingly has no intention of leaving his club, Everton. He has represented his country at all levels with the exception of the senior side and if he can earn a regular place in the Everton first team then he is a very lively outside chance to make Capello’s Euro 2012 squad.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Aged 18 (Arsenal)

Son of former England international, Mark Chamberlain, this young man is one of the most gifted ball players that has been seen for many years. He is so talented that Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, signed him from Southampton for an immediate fee of £12m which could rise to £15m with “add-ons”. He made his debut for Southampton last season and played 36 times for them in their promotion campaign, scoring nine goals from midfield. His move to Arsenal follows almost identically in the footsteps of Theo Walcott, who joined the Gunners at 17 and then was included in the England squad that went to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, something his new team will be keen to replicate. Whilst an England call up may not be imminent, Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly one for the future!

We’ll be back later in the week with an update on the play offs and our first look at England’s prospects next summer…

Ferdinand and Defoe Omitted From Squad To Face Montenegro

Pete South reports on a couple of players who will be fans for the evening…

Rio Ferdinand and Jermain Defoe have been left out of Fabio Capello’s England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on Friday.

Ferdinand has struggled with injury so far this season and only recently made his comeback for Manchester United against Stoke two weeks ago, and was a substitute in United’s last Premier League encounter against Norwich.

With Gary Cahill and United team-mate Phil Jones in the squad along with Everton’s Phil Jagielka and captain John Terry, there was no room for the former Leeds and West Ham defender who will now target securing regular first team football with his club as he works his way back to full match fitness.

Defoe has begun the season well with Tottenham Hotspur and appears reinvigorated after a poor campaign last time round, but his two goals in five games so far this season were not enough to persuade Capello to select him, with the Italian instead preferring Danny Welbeck and Bobby Zamora to join Darren Bent, Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll in the striking department.

England are the football betting favourites to top Group G after back to back wins against Bulgaria and Wales last month moved them six points clear of 2nd placed Montenegro.

Elsewhere Steven Gerrard is not risked after he recently made his comeback with Liverpool after a six month lay-off, but Ashley Young is included despite not playing in Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Norwich because of an ankle knock.

Spurs fullback Kyle Walker rounded off a good week by being called up by Capello hours after he had helped his side claim a memorable win over North London rivals Arsenal with a 25-yard strike while Frank Lampard is also in the mix having responded to being dropped by both club and country in recent games with an emphatic hat-trick against Bolton on Sunday.

England need just one point from their trip to Montenegro to qualify for Euro 2012, however Capello insists his side will go all out for the win.

“If you play for a draw it is a big mistake, you are defending a result and it is easy then to make silly or stupid mistakes,” he told FATV.

“We need to go to win in Montenegro and not to play for a draw.”

England squad: Scott Carson (Bursaspor), Joe Hart (Man City), David Stockdale (Ipswich); Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Micah Richards (Man City), John Terry (captain, Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham); Gareth Barry (Man City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Man City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Man Utd); Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Danny Welbeck (Man Utd), Bobby Zamora (Fulham)

It’s September, it’s raining and we’re playing Wales…

You’ve got to hand it to Wales – bottom of the group without any wins or hope of qualification and they beat our nearest rivals on Friday night. We’re now three points clear at the top of the group with a far superior goal difference to Montenegro going into tonight’s game.

We’ve not played Wales at Wembley since February 1983 (the qualifier for the 2006 World Cup was played at Old Trafford) which surprised me a bit because I grew up with the old Home International tournament and we played each other at least once a year until that competition was abandoned almost 30 years ago.

Before anyone gets too carried away, it’s worth pointing out that in the last ten meetings between England and Wales where we’ve been the home team we’ve only lost once (0-1 in May 1977) but we’ve only won four of those games. Five games were drawn, including the match in Janary 1973 that arguably did more damage to England’s chances of qualifying for the 1974 World Cup qualifying competition than both of the disastrous games against with Poland.

It’s worth highlighting our recent home record against the Welsh because we’ve drawn three of our four home games since beating Bulgaria a year ago – our poorest run of home form for about five years. Wales are currently on a four game losing streak away from Cardiff but won’t need any motivating for this game: however, they’ve had a problem scoring away from home recently – one goal in four games going back to before the last World Cup – and it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if England kept a clean sheet.

Regarding team news, Wales have Liverpool’s Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan (Sunderland) suspended but Jack Collison is expected to return even though if he plays tonight FIFA rules means that he’s committed his international future to Wales - the West Ham midfielder has only previously appeared in friendlies, which means he could theoretically still switch to England.

We’re going to be missing Leighton Baines, Darren Bent and Micah Richards but as none of them played any part in the win at the weekend it looks very much as if the same team that won at the weekend will start tonight’s game.

TV coverage is on ITV1 with the waffle and hype part of the show (featuring Frank’s fiancee’s mate Adrian) starting at 7:00pm before the game kicks off 45 minutes later. As usual with ITV’s bizarre football coverage, if you’ve missed the game for some reason there’ll be a break for the news at 10:00pm and then you can watch highlights. I’m sure there must be people who’ll miss the live game for good reasons, but it’s basically saying to the rest of us ‘turn over or go to bed’…

Don’t Panic, It’s Only Bulgaria and Wales…

Over the next five days England have two very important games that will go a long way to resolving what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be doing it next Summer. The answer we’re all hoping for is ‘watching England playing in Euro 2012’ regardless of whether that’s in the Ukraine and Poland, in an Irish pub somewhere in the Med or (in my case) the biennial ritual hiding behind the sofa with the curtains drawn whilst swearing your head off and trying not to scare the neighbours.

We’re not in a bad position in the Euro 2012 qualifiers – equal top with Montenegro but with a superior goal difference – but Bulgaria will have to beat us tomorrow night to stand any chance of even qualifying for the play offs and that could be where the fun starts.

There are no real outfield surprises in the squad which was announced at the beginning of the week: ten players from the Manchester clubs, seven players from London teams (including Scott Parker, now of Spurs) and two each from Everton and Liverpool. The big issue is the reserve goalkeepers – Frank Fielding of Derby and David Stockdale of Ipswich are both playing in the Championship – but before anyone starts moaning about that, it’s only fair to point out that Birmingham City have reached the group stages of the Europa League. We should be proud of the standard of football in the Championship rather than moaning about the lack of decent goalkeepers in the Premier League, as some ‘journalists’ have been doing.

The good news is that England have never lost in Bulgaria and we’ve won two of the three games we’ve played there – the last victory was a 3-0 win in a qualifier for the 1980 European Championships, goals coming from Kevin Keegan of SV Hamburg and Peter Barnes and Dave Watson of Manchester City. Those of us with long memories will remember that despite Barnes being voted Young Player of The Year in 1979/80, not long after the game he was sold by Malcolm Allison to WBA; it’s hard to imagine Roberto Mancini doing that with either Adam Johnson or James Milner.

Wales can do us a massive favour before our meeting next Tuesday by beating Montenegro but I’ll be surprised if they do – the Red Dragons have only won four of their last ten home games – but it’s important to point out that the Montenegrins have only won once in their last ten away games (the win in Bulgaria last September) and lost in Albania last month. If the bookies are right, there won’t be any changes at the top of the group as England are currently best price 4/7 for the win in Sofia, while Montenegro are 6/4 to win at the Millennium Stadium.

Both our game and Wales v Montenegro are live on Sky Sports, but because of the difference in time zones and kick off times, instead of watching adverts and listening to expert analysis from Bulgaria at half time, you’ll be able to turn over and experience that sinking feeling familiar to football fans on the other side of the Bridge when you see that Wales have conceded an early goal…

Capello Excuses Wearing Thin After Draw Against Switzerland

Regular guest blogger Richard Smith doesn’t pull any punches with his appraisal the current state of the senior squad – we’ll have a preview of the Under 21s posted on Saturday morning.

The situation in the England football camp appears to be worsening by the day with manager, Fabio Capello, coming under increasing pressure, more so than he has ever known before.

The Italian’s comments regarding the tiredness of the English players being responsible for their less than lacklustre performance in their 2-2 Euro 2012 Qualifier draw against Switzerland at Wembley at the weekend has invited the wrath of the media. There have been various negative responses including the suggestion that the ‘tiredness excuse’ would have been better applied to the fact that the players were tired of him and the media and fans are tired of his excuses. The draw against the Swiss was also the fourth game running at Wembley that the England team has failed to win.

Certainly to only draw against a Swiss side who they defeated easily in the reverse fixture last year is a potential setback to automatic qualification. However, their next match is in September, against an improving Bulgarian team in Sofia, which if they should lose will put them in deep trouble, particularly so if Montenegro defeat Wales on the same day.

The big problem Capello has when he blames the performance on tiredness is the simple fact that should England qualify for the European Championships, then tiredness will be a huge factor again as that tournament comes at the end of the domestic season like every other major international football tournament. He is paid £6m pounds per year to find remedies for this problem not to provide excuses which is something he appears not to understand.

Understanding of a different kind is another probable reason why England are failing to produce the level of performance that is expected. Capello has simply not picked up the English language as well as others have from his country. He is almost impossible to understand when conducting media interviews; a fact that makes the mind boggle when thought is given to how he actually conveys his match instructions to the players. Leaving the fans to wonder just how much of his strategy is Lost in Translation?

In the wake of this setback, there have been further rumours of squad unrest with yet another player, Peter Crouch, apparently ready to quit international football. This has prompted FA Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking to lambast the players who want to ‘throw in the international towel’ but he must know that there is a big problem within the set up and perhaps he would be better to clarify the reasons before ‘pointing the finger’. Crouch in fact did not even make the substitutes bench against Switzerland!

The real reason why England could only draw against Switzerland was the fact that they played poorly, lost concentration in defence and failed to take their chances. That all adds up to a player/team/manager problem and not one of exhaustion!

Despite the current plight, bookmakers are still confident that the Three Lions will win Group G, making them astonishingly short favourites at 1/7 to qualify for Poland and Ukraine in twelve months time. They sit joint top alongside Montenegro who also have 11 points after five games but with two of the last three qualifiers on the road for Capello’s men, including a trip to Montenegro in the final game the odds of 5/1 about Montenegro topping the group come October make plenty of appeal for those punters happy to allow sense to prevail and overrule their patriotic heart. The odds on England winning Euro 2012 look even less appealing and it would be the most loyal of fans that are happy to take odds of 9/1 about England ending their 46 year wait for glory.

Accusations, Bribes – And There’s A Game On Too

After all this week’s nonsense, it’s time for a competitive game!

The situation at the top of Group G couldn’t be any tighter – we’re top of the group on goal difference from Montenegro, who face Bulgaria at home after we’ve finished against Switzerland.

Let’s start with a sanity warning here. This is not going to be an easy game: Switzerland have only lost two of their last ten ‘true’ away games (I’m deliberately not going to count the games in the 2010 World Cup as they were played at neutral venues) and although they’ve had problems scoring outside Switzerland, they’ve kept clean sheets in half of those matches.

We’ve never lost to Switzerland at home and tomorrow would be a very bad time to start, especially as two of our last three qualifiers are away games in Montenegro and Bulgaria. The Montenegrins also have to travel (to Wales and Switzerland) but the pressure on them isn’t the same way as it is with us – this was a group we were supposed to easily qualify from but all credit goes to Zlatko Kranjčar and his team for not allowing that to happen; a competitive qualifying group also introduces a healthy sense of reality into the procedings for a change.

The one big advantage we have is that there are goals throughout the side – although the Spud Faced Nipper will be missing tomorrow (too many yellow cards), it’s worth pointing out that he hasn’t scored at Wembley since the 5-1 win over Croatia in September 2009. If Peter Crouch can return to the type of form he showed before the World Cup I’d expect him to get on the scoresheet.

The Swiss squad contains a few familiar faces – Johan Djourou, Phillipe Senderos and Valon Behrami (now at Fiorentina) should be well known to fans of Premier League clubs – but coach Ottmar Hitzfeld doesn’t have any issues when it comes to including younger players in the senior side. Midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka (both FC Basel) are still in their teens, while the three recognised strikers are all under 23 years old – despite being only 22, Bayer Leverkusen’s Eren Derdiyok already has 31 caps.

Verdict: I honestly can’t see Switzerland winning tomorrow, but it’s important to remember that we’ve not beaten anyone at Wembley since the win over Bulgaria last September and the Swiss have only lost once (in Macedonia) in their four aways since the World Cup. I also can’t see Switzerland being able achieve a third consecutive away goalless draw but I think it’ll be closer than most people think. If I was a gambling man (stop laughing at the back please) I’d go for an England win in a low scoring game.

TV details are as follows: England v Switzerland is on ITV1 (so it might be an idea to dig out a radio just in case) but even though Montenegro’s game kicks off after ours, it’s only being broadcast ‘as live’ on ESPN in the UK at 11:45pm. However, if you can’t wait, there are some excellent online resources for live football scores that are an awful lot easier to use than waiting for Teletext updates used to be.

Result: England 2, Switzerland 2. Coming back from two goals down at home is better than nothing, but getting to that stage in the first place is an indictment of some very sloppy end of season defending. Fortunately Ivelin Popov equalised for Bulgaria in Montenegro, so we’re still top of the group. Next competitive game is in Bulgaria on Friday 2nd September.

Recent Internationals Provide Hope for Capello and England

The last ten days have been encouraging for England – there’s certainly no lack of competition for places throughout the squad, even though the general feeling about Sr. Capello is that the sooner he’s replaced the better. Richard Smith takes an overview of the recent games.

So, after the debacle of the captaincy change and England’s latest two matches against Wales in the Euro 2012 qualifier last weekend and the friendly against Ghana at Wembley in midweek, how far exactly has England come in the past nine months in terms of putting away their world cup nightmare and moving on?

The win against Wales was an extremely comfortable affair which saw England wrap the game up within the first fifteen minutes, scoring twice and never looking in any danger from then on. Some hardened critics might question why did they not go on and win the game by more goals, but the truth was this was a comfortable win and the team never needed to get out of first gear and the points has Capello’s side back on top of Group G at the halfway stage on level points with their nearest rivals Montenegro, who sit in second and who England must play away in what could be a crucial final qualifier on 7th October.

The friendly against Ghana gave England boss, Fabio Capello, an opportunity to ring a few changes and take a look at a few fringe players. It also allowed him to work on his newly found 4-3-3 formation. The result was a good all round performance against a vibrant team with the match ending 1-1, with England being deprived of victory in injury time after Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan deftly slipped the attention of Joleon Lescott before firing into the net to cancel out Andy Carroll’s first half left foot strike. All in all, it was one of the more entertaining England friendlies in recent memory and more positives can be taken than negatives.

Overall, England should be pleased with their work this past week, which provides a glimmer of hope for the remainder of Capello’s tenure, particularly as the media were baying for the Italian’s blood after his handling of the England captaincy, a situation that has probably not yet gone away.  Certainly it is difficult to envisage Rio Ferdinand playing for England again under Capello, who failed to inform the Manchester United defender about his decision to reinstate John Terry as captain. There may well be question marks too over Steven Gerrard’s commitment to Capello, particularly as he had been appointed captain in Ferdinand’s absence for the World Cup last season, where he was blatantly and publicly undermined by Terry.

That said, perhaps Capello himself will feel the time is right to change a few of the ‘old guard’ in favour of some of the younger players such as Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Young. Certainly if Capello is to persist with his 4-3-3 system it looks very difficult to play Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the same team. Add to the equation that both Ferdinand and Gerrard have spent plenty of time this season injured, it could prompt them both to consider the option of retiring from international football, however, both are likely to want to play a key role should England reach next Summer’s European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine and it will be very interesting to see which team Capello picks come the next qualifier against Switzerland on 4th June should both Gerrard and Ferdinand be available for selection. 

England remain hot favourites to automatically qualify for Euro 2012 with the odds as short as 1/10 to top Group G, an outcome all concerned will hope is already decided in their favour well before the trip to Montenegro in October.

Wales Preview

I’ve got to be honest, I’m completely underwhelmed by today’s game. If England don’t win by more than two goals I think Capello should resign immediately. This game looks like a mythical third round FA Cup tie – something like Histon v Liverpool.

To begin, let’s start with some facts. We’ve only lost three times in Wales since World War II, the last time was a 0-1 defeat at The Racecourse Ground in Wrexham in May 1982, a game in the last Home International Tournament.

We’ve won eight of the last ten meetings in Wales, there’s not been a draw since April 1970 and we’ve only failed to score twice in the last 20 games over the bridge.

Wales have won 9 of their last 20 internationals at home but only four of their last ten – and those were against those well known powerhouses Liechtenstein, Estonia, Scotland (stiffles giggle) and Luxembourg. They haven’t won a Euro qualifier at home since beating San Marino four years ago.

Fifteen of the 24 players in the Welsh squad for the game – that’s 62% of them – play outside the Premier League. If Wales could play like Swansea then this game would be a lot closer, but there are only three Swansea players in the squad. 

(BTW if Swansea get promoted from the Championship, they’re worth watching: a budget Barcelona until they get to the opposition penalty box where they turn into a poor man’s Arsenal and try to pass the ball into the net)

As for all the nonsense about giving John Terry back the captaincy, all I’m going to say is that I really hope that Spurs either beat Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the Champions League or put up such a fantastic performance that appointing Harry Redknapp as next England manager is obvious even to the dunderheads at the FA.

Capello’s ‘decision’ to reappoint John Terry as captain just shows what a busted flush he is as a manager and even though I expect us to qualify for next year’s tournament, I think it’ll be the same old story when we get to Poland/Ukraine I’m afraid.

Verdict: Wales will be fired up for about ten minutes after the crowd at the Millennium Stadium have finished singing ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, Craig Bellamy will attempt to decapitate Wayne Rooney if he can get anywhere near him…and then England will score and the game will be over.

Postscript: I think we might have a tougher game against Ghana next week.

Ferdinand “Very Upset” With Captaincy Decision

Guest blogger Pete South takes a look at the latest controversial decision by Fabio Capello…

Current England captain Rio Ferdinand is said to be “very upset” over Fabio Capello’s decision to name John Terry as captain for the crucial Euro qualifier against Wales at the weekend, BBC sport reports.

The Manchester United defender has endured an injury hit season and has only played four games for the national side in the last 12 months, and last week media rumours have circulated about the Italian’s impending decision to name Terry as skipper.

Initially back problems kept Ferdinand out of the action, but now a hernia problem means he is unlikely to feature against Wales, and while nothing had been confirmed until the weekend free bets had largely been placed in Terry’s favour.

Terry was stripped of the armband last year following reports about his personal life. Terry allegedly conducted an affair with team mate Wayne Bridges ex-fiancé Vanessa Perroncel, and Capello acted swiftly to take the captain’s armband from him, but now the Chelsea defender has regained the position.

Frank Lampard led the team out in their last match, a friendly against Denmark, but media reports suggest Capello has started to re-think his decision following Ferdinand’s injury woes. The armband was passed around the team in that match, although Terry was a notable exception, and Capello admitted the captaincy had become a headache for him.

“I was really upset about what happened in Denmark, when I saw the players saying ‘who is the captain?’,” he said.

“After one year of punishment, it was not the best moment for John Terry to see this. For that reason, I need to make a decision – and it will be a permanent decision, not just one game.” He added.

 The Italian also admitted the injuries that plagued Ferdinand were becoming an issue and insists he has to act now.

“First of all, I want to know what happened with Rio’s back and when he will be fit because he is a really important player for us,” the 64-year-old said.

After that, I will explain to him what really happened and what I am going to do in the next week – if I will decide on a new captain or about John Terry or something else. I will explain what happened in Denmark and what I think. I would understand if he is not happy but I am the manager. I have to take decisions.”

 England are overwhelming free bet favourites for the game against Wales, but will have to play without Stephen Gerrard, who has been ruled out for a month with a groin injury.