John Terry able to cast aside scandal but England captaincy up for debate

JOHN Terry can only cross his fingers and hope Fabio Capello adopts the same straightforward attitude to the England captaincy that fellow Italian Carlo Ancelotti has done at Chelsea.

The subtleties of the English language may be a little beyond Ancelotti at present but he certainly understands football. So, when it came to naming his team at Burnley on Saturday, and then deciding who should wear the captain's armband, there was barely a flicker of thought when Terry's name was confirmed.

The response was typical. A whole-hearted performance, solid and inspiring, plus a powerfully headed goal that gave Chelsea victory and cemented their position as Premier League title favourites.

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Indeed, the only indication anyone would have had about the worries on Terry's mind was the subdued reaction to what might turn out to be a pretty significant goal.

What was perturbing Terry – the disaster of his personal life, or the affect on his professional one? Was he even thinking of quitting his much-cherished England job before he was pushed?

Only Terry can answer the questions. But Capello would not have been surprised at the performance.

He knows all about Terry's strength of character. He saw it first at Wembley, when Terry scored the opener in a 2-0 win over the United States a week after the 29-year-old had broken down in tears at the Luzhniki Stadium when he missed the penalty that would have given Chelsea a Champions League victory over Manchester United.

But, with FA insiders once again insisting Capello alone will make the decision over Terry's England future, the Italian has a few other issues to weigh up.

No-one, certainly not a man as fundamentally honourable as Capello, would attempt to disguise the magnitude of Terry's personal failings.

Looked at from any angle, they present a fairly miserable picture that will have a devastating effect on Terry's wife Toni and their two children.

But is Capello's role, or Terry's status as captain, a moral one?

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Although Wayne Bridge confirmed yesterday the subject is not one he is prepared to discuss, he also referred to the need to protect his three-year-old son.

Does that extend to not having any involvement with Terry? For if Bridge decides he cannot share a dressing room with his one-time friend and team-mate, Capello has a dilemma.

In pure footballing terms, a choice between taking Terry or Bridge to South Africa next summer barely represents a contest. But should footballing ability determine who emerges with his World Cup dreams intact given the shoddy background?

The Football Association will not be commenting just yet. It is quite likely they will refrain for some considerable time. First, they will want to see what the full fall-out is. The final picture that emerged of Tiger Woods following the allegations about the golfer's private life was far different from the one apparent two days into the affair. Then, the FA will assess the wider reaction, not just the knee-jerk ones from those with axes to grind against Terry, and there are many of them, for various reasons.

If Capello wants to canvass an opinion, it will come from chief executive Ian Watmore, chairman Lord Triesman, or trusted assistant Franco Baldini.

As he begins his own return to duties after a major knee operation by attending next Sunday's Euro 2012 draw in Warsaw, Capello will not delay a decision indefinitely.

It will certainly be made well in advance of his squad meeting up for the friendly with Egypt at Wembley on 3 March and Capello will want to hear Terry's version of events – all of them – before reaching a conclusion.

Eventually though, it will come down to whether Capello can ignore personal problems and concentrate on football.

On Saturday at Turf Moor, Terry proved he can.