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Oct 11, 2008

Capello tells Walcott: "Don't try too hard"

Fabio Capello will have a quiet word with Theo Walcott before Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Kazakhstan - to stop England's boy wonder trying too hard.

Walcott announced his arrival on the international stage in Zagreb last month with a phenomenal hat-trick in the unexpected hammering of Croatia.

Now, in front of a sell-out 90,000 crowd, the teenager will make his Wembley debut, with England fans expecting big things.

Capello is in no doubt he has a special talent to work with. However, the Italian also knows Walcott cannot be expected to produce such astonishing performances every time he pulls on a white shirt.

Which is why he will whisper a sobering message in Walcott's ear to ensure he helps England's pursuit of a 100% record from their opening three games.

"You have to try and play normally and not try to do too much,'' he said.

"I am sure he will take that on board.

"He's a very good boy. He is young but he is still the same - nothing has changed since Croatia. That hasn't surprised me. Why would it?''

Walcott takes his place in an unchanged front line but elsewhere, Capello has selection issues to contend with.

Skipper John Terry is sidelined by a back problem, leaving Rio Ferdinand to take the captain's armband and Matthew Upson, Wes Brown and Joleon Lescott hoping for a start.

And, while it may new the start of a bright new dawn at Wembley - Capello's words - there is a familiar problem as Steven Gerrard returns to the same midfield as Frank Lampard.

At various stages under Capello's predecessors Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, either Lampard or Gerrard shone. But never both.

Currently it is Lampard's star in the ascendancy, Capello's decision to use Gerrard on the left in the August friendly against the Czech Republic drawing stinging criticism from Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, who could see an immense talent being wasted.

Despite the euphoria of last month, which Gerrard missed after a minor groin operation, Capello must realise he does not have enough players of such extreme talent to disregard one.

Which is why he will continue to work at the conundrum until he unearths a solution.

"I hope I can make it work,'' he said.

"Fantastic players have to play together. I don't know why they haven't worked before. The past is not my problem. I just think about the future.

"This kind of thing has happened a lot in my career, although always with the forwards.

"But it's not a problem for me. I prefer to have players of this quality.''

It is only two months since England were booed out of Wembley after a wretched performance against the Czech Republic and four since Euro 2008 unfolded without English representation following the abysmal failure in qualification.

Yet, on the back of just one - albeit extraordinary - win, Capello's side are being talked of as live World Cup contenders, a tournament they will not even have reached the last four of in two decades by the time 32 finalists assemble in South Africa.

It is the kind of over-the-top reaction that makes coaching England seem like an impossible job to many. It is just as well that number does not include Capello.

"It is not an impossible job,'' he said.

"Being England manager is a fantastic experience.

"I agree, it is not easy. For me, it is different to being in charge of a club, when you work and train every day. Then you can change errors and rectify mistakes.

"For this reason alone you need a different mentality.

"But the pressure is the same in all countries. The only difference is somewhere like Milan you are talking about one city and one set of supporters.

"Here, the focus is different. It's one nation. It is the England team.''

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