Bailey back Fabio's men to shine

SOUTH African-based former England goalkeeper Gary Bailey expects Fabio Capello's side to be a big hit in next summer's World Cup finals.

Elvin King

SOUTH African-based former England goalkeeper Gary Bailey expects Fabio Capello's side to be a big hit in next summer's World Cup finals.

England have become the second European country after Holland to qualify for the tournament that starts in South Africa on June 11.

Bailey is the son of Roy who was in goal during Ipswich Town's 1961/62 First Division championship success under the management of Alf Ramsey.

He was born in Ipswich before moving with his family to Johannesburg and Cape Town before joining Manchester United in 1977.

Bailey was a member of the England 1986 World Cup squad in Mexico and is now one of South Africa's leading television commentators.

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He said: “South Africa will go crazy for the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham and I expect this new, improved England to be there for the long haul.

“I fancy them to do well in South Africa, because the conditions will be in their favour.

“It will be winter with the temperature in the late teens, maybe early 20s, making it an environment Premier League players will be very much used to.

“Training will not leave them close to the brink of exhaustion like it did for some of us back in 1986.

“I was also on standby for the 1982 squad in Spain and remember that one being incredibly hot, too.

“In fact, with previous World Cups going right back to 1966, it has always been so ferociously hot that the English have been hampered before a ball has been kicked. Not so this time.”

And Bailey confirms that playing conditions will be ideal, adding: “The stadia in Green Point, Durban, Polokwane and Port Elizabeth - among others - will be second to none in terms of facilities and there will be a fantastic atmosphere, I have no doubt.”

Looking closely at Capello's likely squad, Bailey sees every reason why England should make a big impact.

“They have pace in abundance with the likes of Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips, and the manager can change things with Peter Crouch if he wants to go direct.

“And he has the midfield goals of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

“There is defensive steel at the back, and Michael Owen could be in the mix as I am sure he is determined to prove his critics wrong.

“I thought England were excellent in sealing their qualification against Croatia. In particular Lennon impressed me a great deal.

“He gave the team a whole different angle with his pace and his ability to unlock defences.

“Lennon is almost the team's X factor for me in that he is an expert at unlocking defences and, if you do that, the likes of Gerrard and Lampard will steal in and grab goals.”

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