european qualifying

Capello admits to concerns over Walcott

May 31, 2009

Fabio Capello has admitted to fears over Theo Walcott suffering tiredness for the World Cup but is hopeful the winger is young enough to remain fresh..

England boss Capello has sanctioned Walcott's involvement in the Under-21 European Championships this summer after the qualifiers with the seniors against Kazakhstan and Andorra, meaning the 20-year-old would normally have only a week off before returning to pre-season training with Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger, who has been strongly opposed to Walcott playing for the under-21s, is now likely to delay his youngster's return but he will still have a much shorter rest period compared to his England team-mates.

Capello also feels Walcott's four months out with a dislocated shoulder last season will counter any possible burnout, but he accepts tiredness could be a issue.

"Yes, but he is young,'' Capello said. "Stuart Pearce spoke with the players and the player was happy to play with the under-21s.

"I also understand Arsene because he said he needed to take a holiday. But he did not play during the winter. His holiday was in the winter.''

Walcott's situation highlights the issue of which countries will be best prepared for next year's World Cup, with England among the countries not benefiting from a winter break.

"When you arrive at the end of the season you are not fresh,'' Capello said. "It is a very long season, here more than the other countries because we have one competition more and in the last three or four years the most important teams, the big four, have been in the semi-final of the Champions League.

"I know that not only physically but also mentally you have to be very, very strong for this period and you spend a lot of energy.

"In Germany there is a mid-season break where play is suspended for one month, then play Sunday-Wednesday, Sunday-Wednesday after that. This is very important.

"Here at Christmas you have to play. You have to understand the right of the league and the money for the clubs, it is not easy to find a solution.''

Capello can effectively start preparing for South Africa if England get wins against Kazakhstan next weekend, then Andorra the following Wednesday.

"If we get six points it is a very big step to South Africa,'' Capello said.

England are expected to win both comfortably but Capello has left no stone unturned with his preparations, with Football Association representatives making three trips to Almaty ahead of the first match of the double-header.

Capello will be without injured first-choice goalkeeper David James, with Robert Green and Paul Robinson seemingly fighting it out as a replacement.

"I will check in the next week and after that I will decide,'' he added.

Capello has defended his decision to pick Manchester United veteran Gary Neville, who was not in the squad for the Champions League final against Barcelona and could be fourth choice in his position next season.

"I know that very well,'' Capello said. "We haven't got in England a right-back. I spoke to Wes Brown in Rome and he told me he is not completely fit but he will okay for next season.''

Capello insisted Manchester City youngster Micah Richards, who has been capped under previous manager Steve McClaren, is still not ready to make the step up from the under-21s.

"He has had some problems in his team, he has played sometimes but missed some games,'' Capello said. "For me, I know him because he was with me once, he is young and not ready for the seniors now.''