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Capello claims perfect England are ready
Fabio Capello promised the nation on Thursday night that his England team are at their peak in body and mind as they prepare to launch their World Cup campaign.

Capello lost captain Rio Ferdinand through injury last week but is confident his players are primed for Saturday’s Group C opener against the USA.

He also believes that, in Wayne Rooney, he has a striker capable of seizing the tournament in the way Pele did in 1970 and Diego Maradona in 1986.

‘Here in our camp, I’ve seen everything in training I wanted to see,’ said the England manager. ‘We have improved from when we started in Austria and we have improved a lot here.

‘I am sure they will be in a perfect situation physically and psychologically when they play the USA. We’ve found the spirit. We’ve found different systems to play during games. We’ve changed a lot. A lot of the players know me better now.

‘It is not only one game we are playing. We have to play three games in the group and then every match is a play-off. For this reason, we have to be focused in the mind every game, we have to understand what we have to do in those games.’

Rooney has looked hungry and sharp in training.

‘He is in a good moment, said Capello. ‘He has started scoring goals in training and I hope he will play a fantastic World Cup.’

Steven Gerrard believes England’s talismanic striker, approaching his peak at 24, can take the world by storm.

‘The stage is set for Wayne,’ said the captain. ‘He’s aware of that and the players around him make sure he’s aware of it. He is a fantastic age, he is in great shape and his confidence is sky high, coming off the back of an unbelievable season, probably his best.

‘He belongs in that category of players with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I’m delighted he’s English and he is going to be leading us out there.

‘The stage is set for him to deliver, be England’s main man, shoot us to glory.’

Gerrard has been close to Rooney off the field, having taken his fellow Liverpudlian under his wing since his arrival in the England camp as a raw 17-year-old.

‘I know what Wayne is about,’ added Gerrard. ‘I know his upbringing, his background and I think I can help Wayne be one of the best players in the tournament.’

Rooney’s temperament has been under scrutiny since a booking for dissent against a local team. It was a reminder that England’s best player, sent off in the last World Cup finals, can cross the line between passion and anger.

‘Wayne is always on the edge, he has got that fire in his belly,’ said Gerrard. ‘That’s why he’s one of the best players in the world. We don’t want to take that fire away. Wayne just has to control his frustration and take it out on the opposition rather than referees.

‘The refereeing is going to be really serious and tight so we have to make sure we’re all on our guard and disciplined. We’ve experienced it in previous tournaments when we’ve gone down to 10 men.’

Capello felt the need to issue a reminder on anger management.

Gerrard said: ‘He stresses the importance of always having 11 men on the pitch. This tournament is going to be difficult enough with 11 v 11. If we go a man down or lose people through suspension, it’s going to weaken us.’

But the Liverpool skipper added: ‘We feel as if we’ve under-achieved over the years with the players we have. I’ve certainly dreamed about lifting the World Cup. It will be difficult, but looking around the squad gives me confidence that it just might happen this time.’
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