Capello to assess Green after blunder
Fabio Capello has admitted he will need to assess Robert Green’s mental state before deciding on England’s keeper to face Algeria in Cape Town.
Green joined a long list of England keepers to find themselves in the stocks with his awful gaffe against the United States on Saturday that denied the Three Lions victory.
As Rio Ferdinand prepared to say his farewells and head back to Manchester for treatment on the knee injury he suffered on the first day of training, the full extent of the damage Green caused by inexplicably letting Clint Dempsey’s 40th-minute effort slither through his fingers was confirmed by Slovenia’s defeat of Algeria that took them to the top of Group C.
Although a draw on Friday will be enough for England to retain hope of securing a last 16 berth in the final game, victory is essential if Capello’s side are to give themselves a chance of landing top spot, and a potentially easier run to the semi-finals.
To achieve that, Capello must get his next team selection correct, starting with the goalkeeper.
"We must think about this problem psychologically," said the England coach.
"Goalkeepers make mistakes. This is part of football. You have to accept that.
"I decided on Green because he played very well in the last game against Platinum Stars and also against Mexico at Wembley, and in the second-half last night he played very well and made a really important save. But a mistake remains a mistake.
"Now I have to speak with him, then I will decide what to do."
If Capello feels there any mental scars that could linger, Green will be ditched.
Even a full recovery may not save the 30-year-old, the most high-profile, but certainly not the only failure for Capello.
For months now, Capello has championed the ability of James Milner to become his flexible friend in South Africa, capable of filling any potential gap.
It took just half an hour to prove that belief was false, with Capello admitting he sacrificed the Aston Villa man to prevent him picking up a red card, such was the trouble he was being caused by Steve Cherundolo.
That Joe Cole was overlooked in favour of Milner was a debatable call in the first place. Shaun Wright-Phillips being called on as the replacement was totally mystifying and Capello will not find it easy to come up with a plausible reason.
Yet that position will be rectified relatively easily by Gareth Barry’s return, which will allow skipper Steven Gerrard to take up the left-sided berth if Capello feels Emile Heskey’s excellent overall performance compensates for the fact he missed a golden second-half opportunity to bag a winner.
What may be harder to solve is who will replace Ledley King, who has already been ruled out with a groin injury and whose well chronicled injury problems may have reared their head at just the wrong time given how uncomfortable Jamie Carragher looked when he replaced the Tottenham skipper at half-time.
"We have three central defenders; Carragher, Dawson and Upson," said Capello.
"I hope we don’t get any more injuries. But the problem is not the injuries. The problem was the result."
Capello’s rationale is that having created, by his assessment, seven chances to two, England did everything he wanted and had Heskey located the goal, or, more likely, Green not made the kind of error no manager can countenance for, the situation would look distinctly more rosy.
"I’m not worried for the future," he insisted.
"We played a good game and, for me the most important thing is to see the spirit of the team and also the physical condition of the players. The period in Austria paid off.
"I wasworried about the result because it is possible to lose a game like this.
"We had seven or eight chances. That is good football.
"It’s not enough just to create the chances. To win we have to score.
"Twice we were in front of the goal, once with Shaun Wright-Phillips, once with Emile. Alone. Absolutely alone."
Unfortunately for Capello, in Heskey’s case, the fault is not easily remedied, which just underlines the problems he has got moulding a team good enough to reach the final, his stated aim before the tournament began.