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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Players must be role models, insists Capello

New England manager Fabio Capello has called for his new charges to set an example with their behaviour, both on and off the pitch.

The Italian has arrived as Steve McClaren's successor with a hard-line reputation.

And, within 10 days of officially taking up his post, Capello has dropped the clearest hint yet indiscipline of any kind will not be tolerated.

'The players need to be conscious they are an example for everybody, especially young people,' he said.

The comment is a clear indication Capello quickly intends to stamp his authority on the England team, which will be under his command for the first time against Switzerland at Wembley on February 6.

Although the 61-year-old has spent his first few days at Soho Square getting to know the FA staff, his work began in earnest yesterday when he thrashed out a 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign which will begin against Andorra and meets Capello's stated target of securing two September confrontations with Croatia, the first of which will be in Zagreb.

With that job out of the way, Capello can formulate his plans for the two friendlies in May and one in August which will conclude the first stage of his time in charge.

It is anticipated at least one of the two planned May fixtures will take place at Wembley, with FA sources stressing a proposed meeting with Scotland is still on the agenda.

After setting out his long-term plans, Capello will then focus on the shorter term and pick his squad for the Switzerland clash, and in particular his captain.

Capello is keen to see all the contenders in action before he reaches a verdict over who takes the skipper's armband.

As current incumbent John Terry is waiting for the results of his latest scan to see whether he can step up his comeback from a foot injury, a temporary captaincy for David Beckham to go with his 100th cap has been mooted, allowing Terry to stake his claim along with the other plausible choices Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen.

'The captaincy is a very important decision,' said Capello.

'There are many things I have to evaluate and I must come up with a choice that is right.

'A captain must be a leader, someone who carries the team, somebody that, in every moment, is important for the team.

'I am still deciding whether to pick a definitive captain or a provisional one. First, I need to know all the candidates well because it is such an important choice.'

As befits a man of such vast experience and a CV that includes nine league titles, Capello was giving little away.

Neither was he willing to confirm the presence of Beckham in his first squad, nor even suggest he has any plans to meet the only current England player he has ever managed.

Although Beckham is currently training with Arsenal as he tries to maintain match fitness during the Major League Soccer shutdown, it is to Arsene Wenger Capello will go for advice rather than the player directly.

'I am accustomed to meeting managers,' he said.

'With the players I will speak when we get together.'

Capello accepts debate over Beckham's position within the squad is 'valid' but clearly has no intention of being swayed by the midfielder's popularity or his 99 caps.

'All managers have sentiment - but they also need to take decisions,' he said.

'Beckham is important for England and can still give a lot, but as everybody knows, all the players are equally important to me and start from the same position, including David Beckham.'

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