Eng­land

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

EX­PEC­TA­TION, hype and dis­ap­point­ment. Three words that sum up Eng­land in al­most ev­ery World Cup since they won the tro­phy for the only time on home soil in 1966. While a semi-fi­nal show­ing – in Italy in 1990 – and reach­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals in 2002 and 2006 would sat­isfy many other coun­tries, it is not some­thing that keeps their own fans happy.

Eng­land, and the Eng­land fans, ex­pect bet­ter.

Why they do is a ques­tion for an­other day. The fact is that they do, and hav­ing clinched qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the fi­nals with a cou­ple of matches to spare, hopes are grow­ing that Fabio Capello's men can win the tro­phy in South Africa.

Hav­ing marched through their qual­i­fy­ing group, they ap­pear to be in good shape and there has been no short­age of peo­ple lin­ing up to say that Eng­land can win the World Cup, with Brazil star Kaka the lat­est to give them his back­ing.

In the end, whether or not they suc­ceed will de­pend on the play­ers of course, and on pa­per, they have a strong squad with a strong spine – David James, John Terry, Steven Ger­rard and Wayne Rooney (be­low left) – and a mix­ture of ex­pe­ri­ence in the likes of David Beck­ham and the youth and pace of Aaron Len­non and Theo Wal­cott.

The fit­ness of Rio Fer­di­nand will be giv­ing Capello a few sleep­less nights, how­ever.

In mid­field, Capello has moved the ever-will­ing Ger­rard to the left so that he and Frank Lam­pard can play in the same mid­field and Liver­pool mid­fielder Ger­rard has re­sponded with gusto.

On the flanks, Beck­ham's sec­ond loan spell at AC Mi­lan should mean he will fig­ure in Capello's plans for his ex­pe­ri­ence as much as any­thing, while the re­turn to fit­ness of Joe Cole could be a nice bonus and help push the likes of Len­non, Wal­cott and Shaun Wright-Phillips on to greater things.

In at­tack, Rooney is the first name on the sheet, but who he plays with is still up for grabs.

Capello is well used to bal­anc­ing a big squad from his time with AC Mi­lan and he does not suf­fer fools, but he gen­er­ally makes the right de­ci­sions. If those de­ci­sions pay off in the sum­mer of 2010, he will for­ever be a hero in Eng­land as well as Italy.

The Star: To­gether with Steven Ger­rard, Rooney is the heart of the Eng­land side. A tire­less worker, he is much faster than he is given credit for, is a great fin­isher and an un­selfish part­ner in at­tack.

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