Fabio Capello will select Wayne Rooney for Friday night's vital Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro having been assured by the striker that he is "relaxed" and focused despite his father's arrest over an alleged betting scam.
Wayne Rooney Sr, 48, was among nine people detained on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, the culmination of a joint operation conducted by Merseyside police with the Gambling Commission into suspicious betting activity. The nine also include the Manchester United striker's uncle, Richie, with Rooney's father bailed pending further inquiries on Thursday night.
Capello and Rooney learned of the arrests shortly after arriving at the team's hotel in Podgorica, with the manager seeking out his forward to determine his state of mind. "We spoke and he's OK, no problems," said the Italian. "Absolutely no problem. He's calm, relaxed. He's in a good moment of form and there will be no problems for the game. He's told me he's good, no problems. Over the last few days, he's trained really, really well."
Rooney endured his own personal problems a little over a year ago, when revelations emerged over his private life, but had played on regardless and, indeed, excelled in the victory in Switzerland. The current issues, while still troubling, are one stage removed from the forward, with the England management confident he will be focused on a game from which the national side need only a point to secure passage to Euro 2012.
"There are no concerns at all," said the captain, John Terry. "I know the manager's spoken to Wayne and he's totally fine. Wayne's one of the best players in the world and he'll deal with it and go out and perform like he always does on the pitch. He's fine and focused on the game. We all know the type of character Wayne is. He'll certainly be OK."
Capello has still to finalise who will play closest to Rooney, with the Italian tempted to select a similar 4-2-3-1 set‑up to that which proved so successful during England's 3-0 win in Bulgaria last month. That involved Stewart Downing, Ashley Young and Theo Walcott operating behind the United forward in Sofia, though there remains the possibility that Rooney could drop into the three, most likely at Downing's expense, with Fulham's Bobby Zamora most likely preferred as the lone striker.
The manager is also deliberating over his right-back, with the merits of Phil Jagielka and, in particular, Phil Jones being discussed. The latter has impressed Capello but would be a debutant on what is likely to prove an awkward evening for England – Montenegro are second in Group G and could still mathematically overhaul the visitors at the top with victories in their final two matches, even if they have rested a trio of key players on Friday night – which may yet persuade the manager to opt for Jagielka's greater experience.
Asked whether this was really an occasion to blood young players, Capello said: "I have to think about this. This will be a tough game, and Montenegro will play to win. I know the spirit of their team, and we will need to be really competitive. When it comes to seeing players for the future, we have got time. The friendly games will be really interesting to see [people]."
Capello confirmed it remains his intention to leave his position at the expiry of his contract, after the finals in Poland and Ukraine, and that he will honour his deal through to that point. For now, he will impress upon his team not to be distracted by the reality that a point would suffice in Podgorica as England seek to progress. "I've told them they need to play to win the game. They need to play with the same style they have played away from home, and don't think about a draw.