Fabio Capello is considering taking his England squad to Qatar up to five days before they play Brazil in a prestigious friendly and turning the fixture into an extended warm-weather training camp. England are due to face the Brazilians at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Saturday November 14 and the original plan was to arrive just 48 hours before kick-off.
But now Capello has spotted an opportunity to make more of the match, which is already an intrinsic part of his World Cup preparation. England would normally use Arsenal's London Colney training ground to prepare for matches, but the opportunity to use the excellent facilities on offer in Doha and take advantage of the warmer climate is tempting Capello to change his game plan. "I think we will arrive five days before the match," he said. "I hope. It is an important match for us in our preparation."
The friendly was made possible when England qualified for the World Cup finals automatically, meaning the two dates set aside by Fifa for play-off games were not required. In a bid to keep Premier League managers happy Capello has agreed not to organise another match for Wednesday November 18 and that makes the Brazil fixture all the more important. He said: "For me it will be very interesting and important because it is our first game against a South American team. Their style is different to European teams, although perhaps Spain plays this style.
"They [Brazil] are one of the best teams for their history of football. For me it will be interesting to know what we have to do if we play in the World Cup against a South American country. It's a very important match because we play only 12 games a year and before the World Cup squad is announced we play only four games." England ended a run of eight straight wins when the lost 1-0 away in Ukraine on Saturday. The Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, normally so reliable at the back, made a defensive blunder which led to keeper Robert Green's sending off. Capello knows any defensive errors could prove crucial when it comes to the World Cup, but he told his side not to fear Brazil.
He said: "I think we can play against anyone. When we play Brazil some things will worry me - and some things will worry them. Everyone has some problems and you are not sure to win. You play to win, you want to win, but you have to understand the opponents are always really important. We know there are some good teams but I have faith in my squad. "We have to play all the games with big confidence and in our style. We have to respect our opponents but play as a team, without fear in every game. We are England, one of the best teams in the world and have to play every team to win - but with respect. We cannot be arrogant. It is different to be arrogant. If you play with arrogance it is impossible to win."
Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill told Emile Heskey not to panic after the Aston Villa striker said he might have quit the club to keep his World Cup hopes alive. Heskey admitted his lack of starts for Villa since his £3.5million (Dh20.3m) move from Wigan in January was giving him cause for concern after the Ukraine match. But O'Neill said: "Players need to remember themselves here. The World Cup is not next week, not before Christmas and not even before Easter. It's a long, long way away."