Fabio Capello has conceded that Gareth Bale’s presence in the opposing team’s starting XI will force him to make personnel and tactical changes for England’s game against Wales this evening.
Coming into the game off the back of an encouraging 3-0 away win against Bulgaria on Friday, and with Theo Walcott the only injury doubt, the England manager could have been forgiven for largely sticking with a winning team.
However, the Italian has hinted at making more substantial changes in order to counter the threat posed by Tottenham left-winger Bale, who looked particularly impressive in Wales’ win against Montenegro on Friday.
“Bale always makes a difference. He is a really, really, important player for Wales,” Capello confirmed.
“We need to find a system to stop him and stop people passing to him.”
With this in mind, Capello is expected to change from the 4-2-3-1 formation showcased against Bulgaria to a more compact 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 which will deny Bale the room to exploit pockets of space and counter attack at speed.
As such, Walcott could make way for James Milner, who would help to shore up the right-hand side, or Jermain Defoe, who would partner Wayne Rooney up front in a 4-4-2.
Capello’s caution could make betting on an England win to nil a safe option at odds of 3/5.
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Meanwhile, bookings also need to be taken into consideration and with Scott Parker and Gareth Barry both one yellow card away from a ban, Frank Lampard could be deployed at the expense of one or the other.
This would ensure that at least one of England’s two best holding midfielders is available for England’s game away to Montenegro next month.
Wales manager Gary Speed also has selection issues to resolve given the absence of Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan through suspension and the availability of Jack Collison and James Collins after their return to fitness.
For Capello, though, this is immaterial – for him, it’s all about Bale.
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