Crunch time for Capello

As he prepares for the start of the World Cup qualifiers, Fabio Capello knows this is crunch time.

LONDON - AUGUST 18:  England manager Fabio Capello ahead of the England Training and Press Conference at London Colney on August 18, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  GYI0055517951.jpg
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LONDON // As he prepares for tomorrow's game against the Czech Republic and the start of the World Cup qualifiers, Fabio Capello will know this is crunch time. On paper, he should have a team to challenge the world's best, but it is high time they proved this on the pitch and he still has more questions than answers.

Judging by the opening games of the Premier League season, Capello must have quietly cringed as it was the foreign legion who once again stole the show. Deco, Johan Elmander, Jonas, Samir Nasri, and Fernando Torres were among the class acts. Great for the neutrals, but not for Capello who would have been hoping some of his English contingent would have found form straight away. England need to get off to a winning start on the road to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup or the Italian will find out how unforgiving this job can be after just eight months in charge.

Gabriel Agbonlahor did give him hope, with a superb hat-trick for Aston Villa, and Dean Ashton also grabbed a double for West Ham, but neither of these two strikers will be on show at Wembley. Agbonlahor plays with the Under-21s, Ashton is again injured. And Capello does not have much time for tinkering with the first qualifier against Andorra on Sep 6. One issue the Italian will definitely sort out today is the captaincy, which has dragged on far too long and might have been more fun to have had X-Factor-type auditions and got the public to vote. Rio Ferdinand is expected to pip John Terry for the role, but, honestly, why? What has John Terry done wrong apart from confront referees in the past, which apparently upset Capello who wants role models. But how many players haven't done it when passions run high and decisions are contentious? Roy Keane was no angel, but inspirational and respected as a captain.

Terry's teammate Joe Cole thinks the players will get right behind whoever is chosen. He said: "There are five or six leaders in the team, players with experience; there are captains all over the pitch. "We are all together, we are all in a good mood and positive about the qualifying campaign. "We don't want to be living in the past. The last Euros has gone and we move on to the next challenge. I am convinced we are going in the right direction. We have the right man in charge. He has won things and he is going to be pushing us in the right direction.

"There are no guarantees in life in anything. All I can guarantee the England fans is they have got 23 players in the squad who will run through brick walls to get there [the World Cup] ."