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English Premiership

Gerrard backs Capello

LONDON, March 3 – Steven Gerrard admits England's stars must follow Fabio Capello's warning to stay out of the spotlight from now until the World Cup.
Gerrard is fed up of hearing the tawdry tales involving England team-mates John Terry and Ashley Cole and the Liverpool midfielder believes it is time to banish tabloid revelations about affairs and marital strife for good.

England coach Capello delivered a stern warning to his players to stay out of trouble when they met up for this week’s friendly against Egypt and Gerrard agrees that it is time to settle down and concentrate on fine-tuning World Cup preparations.

"Of course you can’t ignore it because it’s on the front and back pages of every paper and it’s on every TV channel," Gerrard said.

"But we’ve got to forget about it. We’ve got to move forward and put it all behind us. We’ve got a massive tournament, the biggest tournament you could ever play in as a footballer coming up.

"It’s around the corner. It’s important that we don’t lose any focus. Forget about what’s being written about players’ private lives and focus on football. That is what I will be doing.

"The manager let us know that again on Monday but we know as players. We are mature individvuals, we understand the responsibilities and know we are role models for kids.

"He told us as soon as he saw us when we arrived for our first meeting on the training pitch.

"It was short and sweet. He told us to focus on the football. We have a massive tournament coming and he said we have responsibilities as players on and off the pitch."

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Gerrard acknowledges that the public have turned on Terry, who reportedly had an affair with the girlfriend of international team-mate Wayne Bridge, and Cole, whose extra-marital affairs appear to have led to the end of his marriage to pop star Cheryl.

And, while he wasn’t going to join in the criticism, he admitted top players have to be more aware that they have a responsibility to stay out of trouble.

"We are in the spotlight. Sometimes it is difficult but we have got to behave on and off the pitch. Everyone is aware of that," he said.

"The spotlight will be on us even more because of what has happened recently but we have to accept that and deal with it.

"The spotlight is on every single player, even more so leading up to the World Cup. The manager has made the decision to take the captaincy off John and as a player you have to respect that.

"We know there are a lot of opinions about this squad from the outside. But the most important thing is we are united. For us to be successful at the World Cup we are need to stick together.

"We know each other inside out now. That will help. We have had enough time under Fabio to realise what the manager. I’ve seen enough to know over the last few days to know we haven’t been affected."

After England’s 2006 World Cup campaign was distrupted by the rowdy behaviour of the players’ wives and girlfriends in the team’s Baden-Baden base, Capello has been keen to keep them as far away as possible this time.

He will allow players to see the WAGS for one day after matches but Gerrard revealed that he won’t ask his wife Alex to fly out to South Africa unless England reach the semi-finals.

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"I don’t know if having the WAGS over there in Germany affected our performance. I can’t tell you that and time will tell out it works out this time," Gerrard said.

"My wife won’t be there unless we get maybe to the semis or the final.

"It was my decision. She has got two kids, they will be in school and obviously it’s a long way to go. If we get to the semis she deserves to come and see me."

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