LONDON — It was a good week for Joe Hart, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney.

They were all injured and missed the debacle that was England’s 2-1 thrashing — do not let the score line fool you — by France which, unlike the hosts, seems to have shaken off its World Cup blues.

Whether we like it or not the old guard must return when international football resumes in the spring.

Ben Foster, Kieran Gibbs, Jordan Henderson, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka did not provide hope that the so-called World Cup failures can be replaced, they merely highlighted the lack of depth at Fabio Capello’s disposal.

There were further predictable calls for Capello to go after his first Wembley defeat, but the Football Association won’t sack him and the Italian isn’t going to walk out on a contract worth £10 million.

Incredibly, England is going backward when few thought it could get any worse after the World Cup.

While the quality and quantity of candidates at his disposal is thin, it is clear Capello does not have the confidence of the players, not least because his English, like his team, shows no sign of improving. England’s future looks no brighter than its past, but as Capello is leaving after Euro 2012 the future for him is just the next 20 months.

The one positive from the French farce was the debut of Andy Carroll, who impressed if only because of the dross around him. Despite the lack of service, the Newcastle striker tried to make things happen though his callup typified the confusion that too often surrounds Capello.

The England manager had said: “I didn’t select him in the last game we played because the F.A., myself and Stuart Pearce decided it was not OK to select him.”

Since England’s last game Carroll has been charged with assaulting a former girlfriend. Claiming self-defense, and having given a local hotel as his address, Carroll was granted bail on the condition that he resided with Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan until the case resumes in January.

Two days following his bail, Carroll’s car was set on fire while parked on Nolan’s driveway, with the garage door also being daubed with obscenities. The pair have also been accused of bedding girls and drinking through the night.

So Capello picks him now . . .

It was as poor a performance as most Wembley regulars could remember and sadly the competition is becoming fierce. Foster was beaten on his near post for the outstanding Karem Benzema’s opening goal. Gareth Barry and James Milner lack the pace needed at the international level and must be on the at-risk list.

Theo Walcott has scored seven goals for Arsenal this season, but against France he suffered a frustrating night, raising the usual questions about his inconsistency.

Technically and tactically Laurent Blanc’s France was embarrassingly superior to England.

“We could do better,” said England captain Rio Ferdinand with a candidate for understatement of the year. “We didn’t play to our strengths, didn’t control the ball or retain possession. These are things we have to work on.”

England internationals working on their ball control?

Blanc is building his new France around Samir Nasri, left out of the World Cup squad by the hapless Raymond Domenech, which probably did the Arsenal playmaker a favor.

Benzema, who has started one Primera Liga game for Real Madrid this season, reminded Premier League managers of his pedigree. Yann M’Vila of Rennes looks a star in the making.

Peter Crouch came on for the last five minutes to volley his 22nd goal in 42 internationals, a record that ensures him of a place on the bench but not in the starting XI.

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FIFA HAS banned executive committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii in the wake of allegations they asked for money for World Cup votes. Four other former members of the committee were also suspended though FIFA was not specific about the reasons.

Many inside FIFA, whose now 22-man committee will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Dec. 2, are unhappy with the Sunday Times undercover videoing of Adamu and Temarii, which is perceived as entrapment.

Yes, the newspaper’s investigations have harmed England’s chances of hosting the 2018 finals, but that is a small price to pay for a free press. The Sunday Times exposed corruption at the highest level in world football and if that costs England dearly it will say far more about FIFA, which would rather bent practices be kept in-house, than the Football Association.

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ADAM JOHNSON has spoken of the possibility of leaving Manchester City because he is not getting regular first-team football.

Manager Roberto Mancini believes the winger still has much to learn and cannot be relied upon — yet — to put in a good shift every week.

The problem with any City player’s frustration is that they would never come anywhere near to matching their Eastlands salary elsewhere. Footballers are not famous for taking a drop in salary, so Johnson would have to decide if he is prepared to earn less money for more playing time.

Expect Johnson to stay with City.

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PAUL PESCHISOLIDO, the Burton manager who is married to West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady, had his £30,000 Mercedes E-class stolen after leaving the ignition running outside the couple’s home in Knowle, Solihull. He was defrosting the car and went inside the house while the ice on the windscreen thawed.

We have all made mistakes, but can you imagine how Mrs. Peschisolido would have reacted when her husband said: “Darling, I have something to tell you . . . “

Not just his car was stolen. Inside was his laptop computer which contained crucial club business. Peschisolido has offered a reward for the return of his . . . laptop.

Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for theLondon Daily Telegraph.

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