Capello keeps faith in Rooney


BASEL, September 6- Fabio Capello confirmed he will pick Wayne Rooney to play for England against Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier here Tuesday despite revelations over the striker’s private life.

Rooney has found himself on the front page of English newspapers following reports he frequented a prostitute over several months while his wife Coleen was pregnant and is now reportedly battling to save his marriage.

But Capello, who stripped John Terry of the England captaincy in May after the Chelsea defender had an affair with the former fiancee of team-mate Wayne Bridge, has taken a lenient approach this time.

He will select Rooney to face Switzerland and insists the Manchester United player is in the right frame of mind to play for his country having set up all four goals in England’s 4-0 victory over Bulgaria last Friday.

"He will play," said Capello. "I spoke with him and he’s happy to play. I know the player wants to play and his training was really good and I’m sure he will play well tomorrow."

Capello refused to criticise Rooney, insisting: "We are focused on the game not on the private life of the players.

"The players know what they have to do in their private life. And it is ‘private life‘. For this reason the players know what I ask them.

"But I think also for us, for the team, it’s really important the performance on the pitch; because I am a manager, they are players, so it’s better to separate the different moments.

"Look, it’s the world, it’s not only England, the other countries happen the same – French, German, Italian, it’s the same.

"Sometimes the players ignore the rules of the life. But at this moment we are focused and this is the most important thing."

Capello’s reaction appears to be in sharp contrast to the way he dealt with Terry’s misdemeanours, although he failed to see it that way in a tense pre-match press conference in Basel.

"I never suspended him," the Italian stressed. "He played all the games. Only the change of captain, that’s all."

England captain Steven Gerrard is a close friend of Rooney, both players having been brought up in Liverpool, and was placed in an awkward position as he answered questions about his team-mate in an interview that rarely touched on football matters.

But he, too, sprung to the 24-year-old’s defence and even suggested football could prove a welcome release for the United man.

"Wayne is a big character," Gerrard said. "I’ve known him a long time, he loves playing football. Yes, he’s got an issue off the field but that won’t affect him on the pitch. I spoke to him today and he’s been the normal Wayne we know, a top player.

"We all understand the responsibility of being a footballer at the top level but we are human as well and along the way we are going to make mistakes. I’ve made some throughout my career, it’s how you react.

"I trained with Wayne today and he’s been fine and looking forward to the game and playing well.

"I think if you have an issue off the field, football can be a release and once the game starts he‘ll be focused on playing well and helping the team.

"I think you expect a big performance from Wayne every time he goes out, he’s a world class player. I expect another big performance from him every time I play with him."

Capello is unlikely to make many changes for the game; although Michael Dawson picked up a knee injury against Bulgaria and will be replaced by either Gary Cahill or Matthew Upson.

But with so many distractions off the field he is anxious for his players to remember how important the match could prove to be in terms of qualification.

"My target is to play the Euros," he said. "It’s important to arrive first in the group so you have to win games or minimum draw them. Switzerland is one of the best teams in the group, one of the stronger teams, and we must be ready because the group is really balanced."