England report for Swiss clash

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Football News

England reported for duty on Monday night ahead of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland when, for once, Fabio Capello will not be the most under pressure coach.

Opposite number Ottmar Hitzfeld will fly into London under some scrutiny, but Capello does have his problems to sort out, though.

First of all, he presumably will be able to have a chat with Rio Ferdinand within the confines of Watford's plushest hotel to outline the reasons behind his decision to transfer the captaincy back to John Terry, an understandable move that was handled atrociously.

In addition, he will be wanting to wrap first-choice striker Darren Bent in cotton wool and reassure himself over the fitness of his other two strikers, Peter Crouch and Bobby Zamora, neither of whom completed Tottenham and Fulham's final Premier League games respectively.

There might also be words of encouragement for Scott Parker after his recent relegation, along with a few of gratitude for the midfielder's West Ham team-mate Robert Green, who got Capello out of a hole by agreeing to make himself available after originally stating he wished to miss the final international of the season.

And the match itself is hardly meaningless given England are presently joint-top of Group G, with 10 points from four games, the same as Montenegro, who entertain Bulgaria on Saturday night.


However, it is Capello's rival manager Hitzfeld who is in the firing line after a torrid campaign from which qualification would be virtually impossible if Switzerland are beaten at Wembley.

Beaten by the Three Lions in Basle last September and in Montenegro the following month, the March draw with Bulgaria leaves the Swiss six points adrift of the pace-setters with only four games to do something about it.

In addition, star strikers Alex Frei and Marco Streller have both quit the national scene after growing tired of constant criticism, and obvious replacement Hakan Yakin lambasted Hitzfeld for failing to introduce him from the substitutes' bench against Bulgaria and has been dropped. The aura around Hitzfeld has disappeared and calls for his head are sure to reach a crescendo if England win.

With the remaining 25 players in Capello's squad reporting on Monday night, the Italian has nine of his starting line-up for the most recent qualifying win in Wales, Wayne Rooney missing out through suspension and Michael Dawson a shock omission to make way for Ferdinand.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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