Reprieved Capello ready to swing the axe
London: Fabio Capello, who has been spared the chop as England manager despite his team`s early exit from the World Cup, has indicated that the axe will fall instead on some of his most famous players.
The inquest over England`s 4-1 defeat to Germany in South Africa has been intense, not least at the Football Association (FA) where some senior figures wanted to remove Capello from his six-million-pounds-a-year post.
Having opted to stick by their man, the focus now is on how England change for the Euro 2012 qualifiers which begin in September.
Speculation has been rife that older players such as Frank Lampard (32), David Beckham (35), David James (39) and Emile Heskey (32) may be nearing the end of their England careers and Capello has confirmed that his squad will be rejuvenated.
Asked if South Africa represented the end of the road for some of his squad, the Italian was typically frank. "For some players I think so," he said.
Germany`s pace, fitness and energy levels were key to their last-16 victory in Bloemfontein, with manager Joachim Loew speculating later that younger players were better able to recover from a long season.
Now England must search out new, young, talent and intense discussions have already taken place between Capello and his coach Stuart Pearce, who is also manager of England`s Under 21 side.
The view in the camp is that only a handful of Pearce`s players are anywhere near ready for promotion and England`sbest hopes lie in the under-17 squad which recently beat Spain in the European Championships but are years away from selection for the senior squad.
Players Capello sees coming through in time for Euro 2012 include Manchester City winger Adam Johnson, who only just missed out on selection for this tournament, Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs and goalkeeper Joe Hart, who the England boss expects to become Manchester City`s number one next season.
But he underlined that England does not have a bottomless pool of talent.
"The big problem for us is only 38 percent of players in the Premier League are English. In other countries it is 68, 69 or 70 per cent.
"Clubs do produce young players. But some are Welsh, some are Irish, some are the others. They are not English but they play in the Premier League.
"It can happen suddenly, though. When I was director of the academy at Milan we produced seven players who played for AC Milan. Now, no-one. It is the same for Manchester United.
You have to be lucky sometimes. At some moments players come, at others nothing."
Quite what Capello can do until those players miraculously arrive is hard to fathom. Although he was criticised for leaving Arsenal`s Theo Walcott out of his World Cup squad there were few other glaring omissions.
Walcott, if he can put his injury problems behind him, can expect a recall for the Euro 2012 campaign but following Germany`s example of recruiting young players may not be as easy as first appears.
Capello said, "Against us Germany played four foreign players. Double passports. And they did not produce good players for a long time. Now I spoke with Stuart Pearce, these players have come from the under-21s. They are playing very well. It is good. They are good technically, they are good physically.
"We hope to find the same in England. But you have to understand in Germany there are 80 million people."
Whoever he picks in the Euro 2012 campaign Capello will also spend time considering how his players can arrive in Poland and the Ukraine in two years time less tired and worn out than in South Africa.
Calls for a winter break are unlikely to go down well with Premier League clubs but a long drawn-out pre-tournament camp, such as England undertook in Austria this year, is under review after Capello admitted it may have been a mistake.
"In my experience, it is not only the body that is tired, but also the mind. The players have too many games and the mind burns more energy than when you run.
"From the end of the Premier League and the finals, you need more time. More time on holiday."