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English Debate: Does Capello Have Partnership Problems?

English Debate: Does Capello Have Partnership Problems?

Considering Fabio Capello has two burgeoning partnerships to choose from: one proven international couple; and one coming of age at club level; does Fabio Capello have a pleasant problem to deal with, and which one will he opt for?

It sounds like an oxymoron but it is not uncommon to come across a nice problem. Things like: my pockets aren't deep enough for all these ducets; my moonshine makes me fly; and I've got too many women but not enough time, could be heard coming from other folk's lips but certainly not mine.

And, in a similar vein, Fabio Capello is experiencing a pretty predicament having to decide on what partnership to field in England's up coming World Cup qualifiers.

Should he stick with Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney - who were nothing short of imperious during the Three Lions rout over Croatia - or field the on form, blossoming, and oft overlooked couple Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe - who have netted 11 times for Pompey between them thus far this season.

Emile Heskey is a selfless striker. A frequently maligned figure under many an England manager but fans, pundits, and press alike are now paying tribute to a man seen as an ideal spearhead of an English front line. A no nonsense well-balanced bruiser who can hold the ball up and knock it down to an oncoming Theodore Walcott or Wayne Rooney; one who was directly responsible for the latter breaking his international goal scoring duct.

Not only was the powerful Wigan forward one of the responsible parties for allowing play to flow so freely during the Croatian humbling, but he was also a key member of the classic 5-1 demolition of Germany in 2001. His support for Michael Owen - who scored a hat-trick that night - was without question, and they played with the ease that had begun to define his partnership with the diminutive horse-racing enthuasiast while the pair were both donning the Liverpool Red.

"I'm happy for him, good passes and assists for other players – he played very well... Rooney is moving into form physically, he is better," Capello said of the stocky Scouse striker in his post match comments in Zagreb.

That was then though, this is now. Prior to the Kazakhstan showdown at Wembley this Saturday Capello also stated how he wanted no one to focus on the Croatia game... all attention should be on the threat that the Kazakhs could pose. Clearly the Italian tactician only looks forward.

His latest call-ups continue with the his running creed of picking players on form. For instance, Shaun Wright Phillips - after his exquisite return to Eastlands knocking in a brace on his debut, together with his scintillating darting runs against Liverpool last weekend - has been included.

Crouch and Defoe are not only on form, but are loving each other's company at club level too. They were both on the score-sheet against Stoke City, and the big-man/ little-man partnership that Pompey boss Harry Redknapp promised would excited football fans has already begun to bloom.

Peter Crouch said: "I’ve scored a few goals lately so I’m pleased with how things have gone, especially with Jermain scoring too. I always believed it would be a good combination between me and Jermain — we play to each other's strengths. He set up my goal against Stoke and I’ve set up a few of his. So it seems to be working well."

Will Capello drop a pairing that he admitted were coming into form after their last display in the iconic white strip, or play the new partnership that have burst onto the Premier League scene like an unassuming but brilliantly palatable Hollywood couple?

Against relatively meagre international opposition on Saturday against Kazakhstan at home it would not be seen as a gamble to bleed in the Crouch and Defoe, and revert back to Heskey and Rooney for a tricky away tie against Belarus on Wednesday. Why change a winning tactic though? It's a 'problem' most managers would be ecstatic to have...

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Alan Dawson

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