West Bromwich Albion
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By ESPN Staff

Owen has an International future, insists Capello

Fabio Capello insists his decision to ignore Michael Owen is not the beginning of the end of the striker's England career.

Owen has been virtually an automatic choice for successive England managers for the last 10 years but in his first match in charge, a 2-1 win over Switzerland, Owen did not even make it off the bench.

Capello insists though that past reputations count for nothing in his eyes - but the fact that the Newcastle striker was in his 23-man squad means he is part of his future plans.

The Italian said: 'I believe it's much more important what we did on the pitch rather than talking about a single player.

'I know he's a big player and if he's here it means he's still part of my plans like everyone else I selected.

'I don't know what will happen in the future, I know him very well and I'm interested in seeing as many players as I can.

'He just needs to carry on doing what he has done so far. If he's here it means he's part of my group.

'It's not because I like or dislike people. I make choices, the 23 players I have start all at the same level, there's nothing personal about my choices.'

Capello said that he was not intimidated by the size of the task facing the England manager - on the contrary he welcomed the pressure.

'I knew it was a huge job and a difficult job but I was never afraid of it. On the contrary, it stimulates me,' he said.

The team's general manager Franco Baldini claimed England players need to improve their technique and transfer their club form to the national team, and Capello believes the pressure may be a problem.

Capello added: 'I believe it's a lot easier for players when the play for their club, as they know each other's play and play together all the time.

'With the national team it's more difficult to know all the movements you have to do with and without the ball so there are greater difficulties playing together for England.'

Baldini said there were some positives from the 2-1 win over Switzerland but that there were shortcomings in technical skills.

He picked out the tendency of players to hit long passes as one problem - and that even Premier League players needed intensive practise to improve.

Baldini said: 'We are trying to play more with the ball because the English culture is after two, three passes to hit a long ball.

'We have to try and play more. We have to play with more confidence because it's easier to play when the ball is at your feet.

'So we have to try and incorporate this confidence in our game, in our self, to give us more chances.

'We need more technical skill. We have to practise, practise, practise. Unfortunately we have the players just for a few days every two months and so, on this occasion, we had four training sessions. Maybe some managers here will not approve of this but we have to try at all times so that we can do that.'

Baldini insists he and Capello are not trying to turn England into a team that plays in the Italian way, but to reproduce their club form on the international stage.

He added: 'England have to play like England. But maybe a little bit better.

'Some things were good in this game, some things not. But it was good enough.

'Many times, we think about why some players are so important for their club - not just domestically but in European competition too - but they are less effective for England.

'What we have to work out is why that is. Maybe with their clubs, they play with less pressure than they play with for England.

'Pressure can be a good thing but it can also have a negative effect, so we have to manage this.

'It's not a question of their desire. We know they want to play and perform but it's a problem we want to address. This week has been very important for us so we can see things at first hand.'

Much has been made of the strict rules imposed by Capello on the squad, including banning golf at the training camp, dressing smartly, sitting down to meals together, and restricting mobile phones and flip-flops to players' rooms.

Baldini though is surprised the rules have drawn so much attention - they are the norm in Italian clubs.

He said: 'You talk about a new regime but it's normal. If you are at the table with the rest of the players it's best to switch off your phone and not use it.

'There are no special rules, it's just normal. I don't see anything special. It's normal just to help the players stay together.'