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Shining Lion

Posted: 08 Feb 2011 09:26 PM PST

Gunner Wilshere is best of new breed of players, says Capello

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 13:05:00

Football

'SHERE' UPBEAT: Wilshere (right) and Theo Walcott warm up during an England training session at Parken Stadium yesterday in Copenhagen

LONDON: Coach Fabio Capello believes Jack Wilshere represents the best of England's new breed and will become a really important player for his country.

The 19-year-old will be handed the influential midfield holding role when England play Denmark in Copenhagen tomorrow (3.15am).

It is the start of what Capello expects to be a lengthy run in the England line-up for Wilshere, who has long been viewed as a prospect of huge potential and whom the Italian has noted rapid strides from this season.

"Wilshere represents the very best of the young players," said Capello.

"I saw five or six games at the start of the season and he played well. But he was not as good as he is now.

"After a lot of games with a really important team like Arsenal he has improved a lot. He has played with a lot of confidence. And, players like Cesc Fabregas pass the ball to him all the time because their confidence in him was really clear as well.

"Some players I monitored during this period, who are with the Under-21s, are good but they not ready to play with us. Wilshere will be a really important player."

Still, the job he will be asked to complete at Parken Stadium tomorrow, allowing standin skipper Frank Lampard to make the most of his attacking attributes, while not completely alien, is hardly familiar either.

However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger assured Capello his young star was up to the task.

"I spoke with Wenger about it and he told me Wilshere can do it," said Capello.

"He is good when the team go forward and stays in front of the back four. I hope tomorrow he will stay in front of the back four like a centreback."

How long Wilshere is on the field for is a matter of debate.

With a Champions League fixture with Barcelona looming next Wednesday, it was also suggested Wenger might have requested his players to be among the six substitutes Capello vowed to make.

However, Capello insists no deals have been done, even though he is acutely aware of how problematic these February friendlies can be.

"I respect the club managers and I want to try and help them," said Capello.

"I remember this period a lot. A lot of these players have played some hard matches over the last three weeks so I will use six substitutions.

"But I didn't decide the date of the games and there have been no promises."

Capello confirmed Joe Hart will return in goal, while Darren Bent's recent evolution into the more all-round striker Capello needs will be rewarded by a fourth international start and his first since being omitted from the World Cup squad.

Lampard will captain his country from the start of a game for the first time, with Capello claiming the 32-year-old's injury problems over the first few months of the campaign, far from placing a question mark over his presence tomorrow, actually make him one of England's fresher squad members.

There will also be a record 87th appearance for Chelsea's Ashley Cole, allowing the 30-year-old to overtake Kenny Sansom as England's most-capped fullback.

It is a fitting way to end a week that also saw Cole crowned England's player of the year for 2010, a remarkable transformation for someone whose public popularity level has rarely been high.

"I am really happy with Cole's performance level and really happy that the fans decided he was England's best player last year," said Capello.

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Appleton hopes to make impact at West Brom

Posted: 08 Feb 2011 09:13 PM PST

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 13:05:00

LONDON: Michael Appleton (above) is ready to take his big chance at West Brom after being placed in caretaker charge at The Hawthorns.

The 35-year-old stepped in following the sackings on Sunday of manager Roberto Di Matteo and assistants Eddie Newton and Ade Mafe.

Appleton, set to take charge of the side for the first time in Saturday's crunch home meeting with West Ham, has been at the club for a decade having initially moved to West Brom as a player in 2001.

The midfielder was a first-team regular until he suffered a serious knee injury the following season that eventually forced him into retirement at the age of 27.

Appleton later successfully sued the surgeon who operated on him and channelled his frustration into his coaching career.

Having worked with the academy and reserve sides at West Brom, Appleton was appointed first-team coach in 2009, and he cannot wait for his first taste of Premier League management.

"It's going to be fantastic. The circumstances behind it I would have liked to be a little bit different but it will be a proud moment for me," he said.

"I had to lose my career at what I thought was a young age. Since that day I've only ever wanted to be a manager. I didn't expect it to be this way or maybe this soon at this level but it doesn't faze me."

Di Matteo's removal came as a shock to most in football and Appleton was no exception.

The new man was, though, pleased to receive backing from his former boss.

"I received a call from the club on Sunday to explain what had happened. It was disappointing because I was part of a group of staff that were hopefully going to keep the team in the Premier League. Appleton did not want to be drawn on the possibility of taking the position full-time.

"The chairman and the board will decide on those things. Ultimately, I want to win the game, the players want to win the game and it's my job to make sure that I prepare them so we can get three points. Who knows after that?"

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