|ESPNsoccernet: World Cup 2010|
Fabio Capello says he never considered dropping John Terry after the defender's outburst, and insists confidence is high in the England camp as they prepare to face Slovenia in Wednesday's crunch match in Port Elizabeth.
• Terry issues apology
England have had to deflect stories of rifts in the camp following newspaper speculation at the weekend and John Terry's press conference, when the former skipper claimed there would be frank words spoken at a team meeting.
Capello has since stated that Terry made a "big mistake" in that press conference, but insisted on Tuesday that he never considered dropping the former captain in order to punish him.
"He is one of the most important players and no, I did not think about dropping him," Capello said. "This is a really important game for us, everything else has gone out of the minds of the players. Speak about the game, not John Terry."
Asked about his relationship with the players, he added: "Really good, because every time when I speak with the players they follow me. The players are happy. They trained very well. I think it's normal to have pressure at the moment. We have a play-off to be in or out. We have to win.''
Captain Steven Gerrard, who described the game against Slovenia as "do or die'', claimed Terry's outburst is not affecting the players.
"He's gone out and said what he said but I think it's time to move on,'' said the Liverpool midfielder. "As captain it's important I switch attention to the game as it's a do-or-die situation.Training was very good and sharp this morning so we need to go out and do the business.''
Capello also backed Wayne Rooney to up his game following recent criticism of his below-par performances, especially in the goalless draw with Algeria.
"I spoke a lot of time with Rooney and he is an important player for us,'' said Capello. "Sometimes the pressure is so big, also for the important players. He improved in the last three days during training. I am sure tomorrow he will play really well.''
Gerrard sympathises with the supporters and revealed the team are desperate to put on a better performance.
"I can certainly understand,'' he said. "We came into this tournament with big expectations. People have paid good money and expect us to win football matches so we as players take responsibility for underperforming in the last game and the idea is try to put in a good performance tomorrow, win the game and change the perception of how we've done so far.
"We want to make the nation proud and happy. A good win tomorrow would certainly give the people more confidence. You can see that the players hurt from the Algeria performance. We let the country down by underperforming and we want to put that right.
"I can see the hunger in the guys, we can't wait for the game to start to put it right because we haven't enjoyed the past couple of days - the criticism and that feeling you get when you've underperformed and you've not done yourself justice.
"In the last performance we stopped doing what we done in the qualifying games. We were really confident, we played aggressive football and we were really difficult to beat. Although we never lost against Algeria, there were certainly things missing and tomorrow hopefully we can get those things back.
"We want to start the game really well, play compact, difficult to beat but also have the cutting edge in the final third where we can get the goals that we need.''
Gerrard also denied that he and his team-mates had put pressure on Capello to pick Joe Cole in his team, adding: "No not at all. Obviously the manager picks the team he thinks best to do the job. And obviously the players aren't in any position to question who the manager picks. Whoever he picks we go with that and we give it our best shot.''
Capello admitted it was possible he had made mistakes in England's opening two games but has called for his players to knuckle down and start battling.
"It's possible I made some mistakes,'' he said. "It's possible. We have to improve if we want to win. I expect to see the spirit of the team. I want to see them fighting every moment, I want that we win the ball back quickly. We have to press more, we have to run more. This I want to see.''
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek is refusing to be distracted by the turmoil within the England camp. Kek said: "We are aware of the significance of tomorrow's match for England and Slovenia. The stakes are very high. England have to go to the second round; Slovenia wish to go to the second round. This is our wish.
"I am just dealing with the problems Slovenia face, not focusing on the problems England face. I have great respect for England and their players and their coach. However, my thoughts are devoted only to Slovenia. This would mean a lot. It would be a terrific success if Slovenia got to the second round.
"But I am not interested in who won't make it to the second round because we do. It is our wish to get to the second round. We have a good starting point. This may be unexpected, but we are aware that we will be playing a very strong team, and that's why we need to gear up for this match.
"We feel confident, we are courageous and we will be able to face up to England.''
Slovenia will progress if they can avoid defeat by England, but Kek insists they will not play for a draw. He said: "There are so many combinations for the second round. I don't want to go into details, I don't want to waste my energy.
"Is it a draw? Is it a win? It's a waste of time. I don't know which team can say it will have a draw with England. Slovenia will do its best to win the match and play the game that has proved to be so successful. But tomorrow is a different game, it's a fight to get to the knockout phase and it is an additional motivation to play against a team that has been so big.
"But if we play our game tomorrow, I am sure we can get to the second round. The quality of England is clear. England, for me, are still a favourite to win the World Cup at the very end. But the stakes are high and all four teams can go into the second round. That's why Group C has an appeal to it.
"But prior to the World Cup, I wasn't so sure that England and the United States were sure to reach the second round.''