ENGLAND manager Fabio Capello is preparing to come up with a special plan to combat Wales danger-man Gareth Bale at Wembley tonight.
England are hoping to end a four-match sequence without a home win in their penultimate Euro 2012 qualifier and although the result will have little bearing on whether the Three Lions make it to Poland and the Ukraine or not, Capello wants to restore confidence on home soil ahead of more searching tests that lie ahead.
In order to do that, they need to neutralise Bale.
“Bale is a really important player for Wales,” said Capello.
“I was at Tottenham’s game against Manchester City and he was so-so. But for Wales against Montenegro on Friday he improved a lot.
“He ran a lot and was really fast. When he receives the ball and attacks the space he is really fantastic. It’s difficult to stop him.”
The plan appears to revolve around Manchester City midfielder James Milner being recalled in place of Theo Walcott and a change of formation to the one responsible for England’s victory in Bulgaria on Friday.
Although some may argue whether such tinkering is entirely necessary against a team buoyed by their win over Montenegro but lacking Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan through suspension, it is a welcome sign of Capello’s new-found flexibility, which also extends to the England team hotel.
The scene of such disgruntlement at other parts of Capello’s near four-year reign, now in his final season, it seems the Italian is becoming a more human figure.
“They understand me better. Now they understand I am not an ogre,” said Capello.
“I am always focused during training. We work for an hour, or 90 minutes. Afterwards I am relaxed and they can do anything.
“I understand something about the English players, the English managers, the style, the news, where I live. It’s not a question of discipline. It’s respect. Respect is so important.”