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Sep 7, 2009

Capello demands that England cut out sloppiness

An exasperated Fabio Capello has demanded that England stop giving away cheap goals after Slovenia's late consolation at Wembley on Saturday.

Zlatan Ljubijankic was able to get away from his marker, Joleon Lescott, to head in at the near post in the 85th minute. It followed the poor defending against Holland in Amsterdam last month when England gifted two goals to the Dutch.

Now Capello has insisted his side must learn to concentrate throughout every match if they are to stand any chance of being crowned World Cup winners in South Africa next summer.

England face Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday, knowing a win will guarantee their place in the finals, and while some may look at the game as another chance for revenge following the crushing defeat in Euro 2008 qualifying almost two years ago, for the coach he wants to see his message is getting through.

Capello has vowed to sit down with his squad to drill home what he expects.

"I will try in the next meeting,'' replied Capello when asked what he could do to prevent his players switching off. "I have a system. My system. Sometimes I shout. But this time absolutely not. I will explain what I want them to do. And if they want to stay with me...''

At that point, Capello tailed off. The point had been made.

One of Capello's big dilemmas ahead of the game is whether to go with Emile Heskey or Jermain Defoe in attack.

Heskey started the game against Slovenia, but it is Defoe who is in top form and came off the bench to again score for his country.

"When Jermain Defoe plays in the second half, he scores goals. That is good," said the Italian. "He is a really important player for us. But I can choose different players. They do a lot of movement around Heskey. And the movement of Rooney and Gerrard is very dangerous. I thought Heskey did well.''

Heskey has admitted that he can have no cause for complaint should Capello decide to go with Defoe.

He said: "You can't complain (if Defoe starts). Jermain has done brilliantly. Every time he comes on the pitch he scores a goal. That's the main thing. We're in competition but it's good competition. It puts you on your toes knowing you've got to do well.''

Defoe says he has taken inspiration from David Beckham to prove his critics wrong and find form on the international stage.

"It was disappointing to miss out on 2006 but when you go through disappointments in life, it's about how you react and come back from them," he said. "If you look at the most talented players, they all have to do that.

"If you look at David Beckham, he got sent off in the World Cup in 1998 and had to bounce back, which he did by getting a goal against Greece a few years later to get us to another finals.

"To do what he has done since, to get all those caps and have an incredible career, is unbelievable. You look at players like that and learn from them. You've just got to keep your head up and keep working and hopefully you will get another chance - and that's what I want with this next World Cup.''

Defoe wants to start against Croatia but is adamant England clinching their spot at the 2010 finals takes priority over his own personal ambitions.

He said: "Of course, I'd like to be in from the start on Wednesday. You want to play every game for your club and for your country. Everyone wants to play. You don't want to sit on the bench. It is a massive game against Croatia. We all remember what happened last time against them at Wembley and we don't want to have that feeling again.

"It is hard to put in words what it felt like two years ago. It was like 'it's all over' and we were out of the European Championships before making the finals. We want to forget about that and put things right. We have moved on since then and there has been a great improvement. Everyone wants to play but I don't want to say too much. Three points on Wednesday is the most important thing.''

Croatia will be without the injured Luka Modric and also Vedran Corluka, who was sent off in the 1-0 win at home to Belarus at the weekend.

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