Fabio Capello keen to get Steven Gerrard back into England colours

Fabio Capello will be at Goodison Park on Saturday for the Merseyside derby in the hope of witnessing a Steven Gerrard who is ready to play some part against Montenegro.

With England in need of a point against Montenegro in Podgorica next Friday to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2012, the manager is eager to include players who are barely emerging from injury.

The Liverpool midfielder was out for six months because of groin surgery and subsequent complications, and did not play from March until two outings as a substitute, against Brighton in the Carling Cup and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League last Saturday, amounting to 23 minutes.

The Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, has asked Capello to be similarly "intelligent" in the use he makes of Gerrard. That, in any case, may be the only realistic course of action.

Capello has not given up hope of selecting Wayne Rooney, despite the fact that a hamstring strain is expected to sideline the forward for the next three weeks. The Italian wants to be sure that the medical evidence rules out the striker. Franco Baldini, the England general manager, will be at Old Trafford for the game with Norwich City on Saturday.

It is heartening for Capello that Rio Ferdinand has been fit to start the last two matches for Manchester United, while Chris Smalling is also sought after by his country and England hope he can recover from a groin strain. Smalling now fills a right-back post for his country that will turn into the subject of debate should he be missing.

Capello seems to have a less than complete faith in Micah Richards. Phil Jagielka, a centre-half, is not naturally suited to switching to the right and Kyle Walker, playing for Tottenham following his loan period at Aston Villa, lacks experience. The manager, however, is thought to believe that Walker has the potential to establish himself in that position in the longer term.

Others have some prospect of a comeback. Shaun Wright-Phillips went to the 2010 World Cup finals in preference to Theo Walcott and Capello gave him three appearances there as a substitute. He was also brought on in the 0-0 draw with Montenegro at Wembley in October 2010. Wright-Phillips then drifted to the margins at Manchester City and it may be too much to expect that England will turn to him now that he is a Queens Park Rangers player, but he is likely to be in Capello's large provisional squad.

The manager has a thought for the future despite the fact that his contract ends next year and there will be opportunities for newcomers once the qualifiers are over. In that regard, it is a blow that the 19-year-old Jack Wilshere will not appear again for Arsenal until 2012 because of an ankle problem did not prevent him from playing until it had done significant harm. Capello is particularly determined in advance of the Montenegro matches, but events on the club scene can always hamper the manager.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Kevin McCarra, for The Guardian on Thursday 29th September 2011 23.00 Europe/London

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