FABIO Capello has confirmed Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge will make his England debut against Sweden on Tuesday as he prepares to unleash the next wave of promising youngsters who could carry his team through Euro 2012.
After handing first appearances to Jack Rodwell and former Sheffield United defender Kyle Walker in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Spain at Wembley, now it is Sturridge’s turn to press his claims for a place in next summer’s Finals in Poland and Ukraine.
“I need to know the value of the players when they play at Wembley. There is big pressure for all the players here,” said the England coach.
Having admitted he had taken a risk in leaving John Terry and Wayne Rooney out of his plans to face the world champions, despite the fact Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere were already missing through injury, Capello could take a huge amount of satisfaction from the outcome.
In man of the match Scott Parker and central defensive duo Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, England erected a formidable barrier Spain found impossible to break down.
The hosts remained diligent in their work. And whilst the visitors enjoyed the majority of possession, it was not until the latter stages, when David Villa smacked a shot against the post and Cesc Fabregas wasted a couple of good chances, that Spain really threatened.
“Spain are the best team in the world,” said Capello.
“They are difficult to play against because they have so much quality.
“It is impossible to win the ball back off them but the players did what we asked.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque made a very similar point.
“The England side are very physical and powerful who carried out their manager’s orders perfectly,” he grumbled.
It was very much a case of damning opponents with rather faint praise.
Yet Capello could counter by asking exactly what were England supposed to do.
After all, there is no other team in the world who can boast the attacking quality Del Bosque has at his disposal, or rely on the neatness of Xavi and Andres Iniesta to get them out of trouble.
Finding a solution is not easy, as so many teams who have tried to stop Spain and Barcelona over the past few years have discovered.
Capello’s masterplan, getting Parker to sit deep and asking Manchester United rookie Phil Jones to press from midfield, was impressive. That England worked so tirelessly to implement it even more so.
“You have to be really compact,” acknowledged the England coach.