Refreshing feel to Three Lions but rest is needed

Frank Lampard puts England ahead from the penalty spot
Frank Lampard puts England ahead from the penalty spot
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I watched England’s win over Wales in a Manhattan bar near Madison Square Garden over breakfast – and it was more encouraging than most recent efforts.

Significantly, the presence of men like Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere, Michael Dawson and Ashley Young represented a departure from the jaded team who bored us all rigid at the World Cup.

Here were players for whom playing for England was not a chore or something to be feared.

And for freshening up the team and changing to a three-man central-midfield engine room, coach Fabio Capello deserves some credit.

But before anyone gets too carried away, let us be honest enough to admit Wales, without the threat of Gareth Bale, were wretched.

The real test for this England side comes in the summer of 2012 when they are pitched against Europe’s elite sides.

We have usually (though not always) been good qualifiers.

But can England deliver at a major championship for the first time since reaching the semi-finals of Euro 96 on home soil, playing an advanced, more sophisticated style under Terry Venables?

The FA should heed the recent remarks of Sir Alex Ferguson, who holds no candle for England, of course.

He believes the national side will never prosper in a big summer tournament until a mid-winter break is established to allow the players some deserved respite.

I have always thought such an idea would not work in England, where the fans love Christmas and new year football.

But the Germans always take a break and look how well they do at the big events.

It is worth a try.

We must give England every opportunity to perform at the highest level when it really matters.

Just so long as the clubs are banned from taking players off in January to play in far-away friendlies.

Rest must mean rest.