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Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

England tries to carry on after Capello's departure


LONDON — Under the temporary command of Stuart Pearce, England's players on Monday began an uncertain buildup to the European Championship following Fabio Capello's resignation.

News photo
Looking up: Portugal's Ronaldo heads the ball during a training session on Monday in Warsaw ahead of Wednesday's friendly international with Poland. AP

The sudden departure of the coach less than four months before a major tournament has created an air of uncertainty around the England squad, which takes on the Netherlands on Wednesday in a friendly.

"The timing is not as ideal as you would want, changing manager so close to a major tournament," winger James Milner said. "But we will go in as well prepared as we can be."

How England performs on Wednesday could determine just how long Pearce holds onto the job.

Milner believes Pearce has the credentials to remain in charge through to Euro 2012, having played for the England Under-21 coach at the junior European Championship.

"He is a great manager, was a great player, and in the two Under-21 tournaments we were unlucky on both occasions," Milner said. "We should have won at least one of them, but what I noticed was that in the tournaments I had under him, we went in very well prepared.

"He thinks about every aspect which could come up in a tournament, every eventuality. How we are going to have to play and how to plan for combating certain teams. That's the most important thing going into a tournament, you want to feel you are ready."

Milner has been singled out as a potential captain by Pearce for Wednesday night.

"I think when you grow up as a kid you dream one day you might be England captain," the Manchester City player said. "I've been lucky enough to play in a World Cup, so to be captain would be a great honor."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, however, would seem more likely to be selected as skipper.

"He is a great influence on players," Liverpool teammate Stewart Downing said. "He drives teams on. If he is given the captaincy that is a good thing."

Donovan ruled out


LONDON — Landon Donovan will miss the United States' friendly against Italy after being forced to withdraw Sunday due to illness, meaning he will miss the chance to play together with Clint Dempsey for the first time since Jurgen Klinsmann was hired as coach last summer.

Jermaine Jones also had to pull out ahead of Wednesday's game at Genoa because of a strained right calf.

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