Fab eyeing Rooney-Carroll partnership
Fabio Capello is relishing the prospect of partnering Andy Carroll with Wayne Rooney next time England take the field.
The Three Lions are due to be in action in February but the planned friendly fixture has become a bit of a farce with the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen booked without it being established whether the Danish Football Association (DBU) were happy with the move.
The DBU eventually decided not to allow a friendly to take place on February 9 as their national team was in action, albeit away from home, and requested the fixture be moved forward 24 hours.
Argentina were due to be England's opponents, but they pulled out because it was felt there would be insufficient preparation time for players travelling from South America.
The FA are now searching for another opponent, but it is still not clear how many England players will be available for the clash on Tuesday, February 8 because of key Premier League fixtures just 48 hours earlier.
However, when Capello does get his players together he has high hopes for a Carroll-Rooney axis, which he believes could bring the best out of the Three Lions.
"They will be a good combination," said Capello.
"Not only is Carroll really good in the air, he has good movement, he can bring other players into the game when he receives the ball, he can dribble and is always looking for the goal.
"When I saw him playing for Newcastle against Arsenal he surprised me and this week he confirmed what I saw."
The delight for Capello was that Carroll played exactly the same way against France at Wembley on Wednesday as he did for Newcastle against the Gunners when he scored the only goal.
It was obvious the 21-year-old was feeding off scraps, yet this only made his performance all the more impressive.
Capello has never made any secret of his preference to have an attack spearheaded by a more physically imposing player than Rooney.
The Manchester United forward was not at Wembley this week. But his presence was still felt, with Capello now crossing his fingers that in the three months before his own team play again, his star striker can rediscover his form.
"Everyone knows that when Rooney is fit and in good form, he is one of the best players in the world," said Capello.
"He makes a difference.
"Look at France. Without Karim Benzema they are another team.
"Some players are too important.
"But we all know Rooney needs to be fit. When you play at his level you have to be fitter than you would normally. At 100%.
"That is why it is so important for him to play games with United."
Capello was always of the opinion he could get more out of Rooney, and Steven Gerrard for that matter, with Emile Heskey leading the attack rather than Jermain Defoe.
Unlike Peter Crouch, Heskey hardly scored. In Carroll he appears to have found, if not an exact replacement for the Aston Villa forward, then a plausible alternative, who also knows where the net is.
There is a potential drawback - Carroll's private life. But Capello is working on that.
"I spoke with him and told him what he does is really important because the press, the TV and the photographers will be focusing on him and his behaviour," said Capello.
"He has to be careful at every moment, when you drink, the friends you choose because he is in the mind, my mind, journalists' minds and supporters' minds."
Capello believes the lessons will be learned because Carroll is so young. At 30, Crouch's chance of ever becoming a regular starter for England surely has gone.
Yet, as ever with England it seems, the team itself is a work in progress.
Having played four out of five games since the World Cup at Wembley, Capello was anxious to play away from London as preparation for the March 26 meeting with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
Now those plans are in doubt, which is a shame, if only because the coach himself thinks improvement is obvious, even if others are not so certain.
"When we play at Wembley, if we start well, the confidence is high and everything is easy," said Capello.
"When you start so-so, then the pressure increases and you play without confidence.
"For this reason it's very important that the young players play these games and not in easy games.
"It is our choice. If we want to win we can play against easy sides. If we want to improve we have to play against good ones."