England's Capello relishing Spanish test
Fabio Capello is confident Euro 2008 winners Spain will offer resurgent England the perfect test in Seville on Wednesday.
The Three Lions coach rates Spain the best side in the world at present, so in that sense alone it will give Capello an indication of how far England have progressed during his first 12 months in charge - and the distance still to be travelled.
But the hosts also provide another playing style to overcome, the slow, rhythmic South American way England are bound to come across at some point in South Africa next year, providing they qualify.
''Results are always important but you also need to understand where we are now, for the next game and for the future,'' said Capello.
''In November we beat Germany. But their style is completely different to Spain. I want to see what will happen against a team who play in another style, similar to the South American way.
''At this moment, Spain are possibly the best team. They were one team who played very well at the European Championships and technically all the players are at a very high level.''
Capello's entire 23-man squad turned up as planned to England's training base in Watford tonight, including David Beckham, who needs one cap to equal Bobby Moore's record of 108 for an outfield player.
Emile Heskey does have a slight ankle knock that will keep him out of training on Monday but it is not threatening his participation in the game.
Capello certainly has nothing against Wigan but the Italian is delighted Heskey has joined Villa's surge for the Champions League.
''I followed Heskey at Wigan,'' he said. ''But it is important for national players play for a team at a high level and I think it is good for Heskey to play with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young in a good team who are so high in the table.''
It seems highly likely Heskey and Agbonlahor will be paired together on Wednesday, at least from the start given Capello has vowed not to over-tax his players in recognition of the demanding domestic programme in front of them.
Carlton Cole is one of the men set to profit after being handed his first call-up at senior level after a 19-cap under-21 career.
With Capello in the stands, Cole did not particularly impress for West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday Manchester United maintained their Premier League title drive.
But the 25-year-old has established a position above out-of-form Darren Bent in the England pecking order thanks to six goals in the Hammers' recent eight-match unbeaten run.
''He is young and interesting,'' said the England coach. ''I have been following him and he has just got better and better every game. His movement and his strength impress me. He is in good form.''