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By ESPN Staff

Capello heaps praise on both Defoe and Milner

Fabio Capello has given his two-goal England hero Jermain Defoe a ringing endorsement.

Defoe's second-half double rescued the Three Lions in Holland on Wednesday night, allowing them to snatch a draw after they had found themselves two goals adrift at the interval.

It is widely assumed Defoe will face stiff competition from Michael Owen for a place in England's World Cup squad when Capello gets round to naming it next May.

And, while Capello is too wise to start declaring his hand so early, it appears Defoe has an early edge.

"The door is open for every player,'' he said. "I like players who are good technically and are fast. Because Defoe is small he finds form quickly. But I am happy when he plays with us because he always plays well.

"He is dangerous and he scores goals. If he plays from the first minute he plays well. When he comes on in the second-half he plays well too.''

Another player who began preparations for this weekend's big Premier League kick-off with Capello's praise ringing in his ears was James Milner.

Finally too old for an England Under-21 side he collected an incredible 46 caps for, Milner could force his way into Capello's plans on a regular basis judging by the way he attacked the Dutch defence, creating the visitors second goal in the process.

"Milner played very well,'' said Capello. "What he did was really important for the result and for the performance. His movement, both with and without the ball, was very good.''

As time is so short - five matches at the most and only four for the Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United contingent - before Capello names his squad for the friendly with Slovenia and World Cup qualifier with Croatia on September 9 when victory will take England through, not many changes at are expected.

David James will no doubt return providing he comes through Portsmouth's early-season fixtures unscathed, although whether Capello is willing to take another chance on Ben Foster's fragile fitness is open to debate.

Glen Johnson was one of the underperforming collection of England players. But while the new Liverpool signing does not have the experience of Ferdinand to reinforce his position, there are no obvious alternatives for the right-back slot given neither Wes Brown nor Gary Neville are in the peak of health.

• England skipper John Terry expects Capello to be given a selection headache ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Croatia next month.

Capello's first-choice team picks itself but there are clutch of players giving the England boss options, with Jermain Defoe catching the eye with two goals against Holland this week and Carlton Cole also playing well in Amsterdam.

Next is a friendly against Slovenia on September 5, then the Croatia clash four days later that could see England edge closer to South Africa.

"These friendlies are massively important for those guys on the bench,'' Terry said. "It's a chance to come on and show what they can do.

"When Carlton Cole is like he was against Holland, he's unplayable. Jermain had his goals and his movement. James Milner did really well and so did Michael Carrick.

"It gives the manager a lot of food for thought and problems for the next game. That is why the guys are there in the squad, to give us great strength in depth.''

Terry feels strides have been made since losing to European champions Spain in February, illustrated by coming back from two goals down at Amsterdam ArenA.

"I think there is progress,'' Terry said. "To come 2-0 down as well against such a strong side. We're a bit disappointed that we didn't go onto win the game because we had a couple more chances.

"Overall we are happy with the draw after conceding two sloppy goals. We walk away happy and sometimes you learn more from the mistakes than if you go somewhere and win 2-0.''

Defoe shone against the Dutch and Terry feels the Tottenham striker will be determined to make up for the disappointment of just missing the 2006 World Cup.

"It must have been very disappointing for him personally and he has another chance now with the campaign coming up,'' he said.

"If we get there he could be right in the frame, especially with his work against Holland. In training before the game we did finishing and, honestly, he was unbelievable.

"He is one of the best natural finishers I've come across. He's so sharp in and around the box as well.''


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