Wayne Bridge expected to be named alongside John Terry in England squad
Fabio Capello is preparing to name Wayne Bridge alongside John Terry in his squad for England’s World Cup warm-up match against Egypt on March 3, but the pair will be warned not to bring their personal dispute into the national team camp.
Capello has no interest in mediating in the conflict that has arisen since it emerged that Terry had an affair with Bridge’s former partner, Vanessa Perroncel, and he will not raise the issue directly with either of them.
He will, however, send a message to them via intermediaries — whether the team’s general manager, Franco Baldini, or their respective club managers — that he will not tolerate such tensions inside the England camp in the build-up to the World Cup.
Bridge has yet to confirm his availability for the game publicly but, having seriously thought about retiring from internationals, the Manchester City full back is said to be leaning towards a decision that it would be wrong to allow his anger with Terry to curtail his England career.
Bridge is aware of the possibility that he could have an important role to play at left back in the World Cup — in a back four that includes Terry, who has been stripped of the captaincy after allegations about his personal life, and Rio Ferdinand, the new captain — with Ashley Cole facing a race to be fit for the tournament after fracturing his left ankle last week.
The first challenge for Bridge would be to establish himself as the best alternative for Capello at left back. When Capello unveils his squad next week, he is expected to call up Leighton Baines, of Everton, but Stephen Warnock, of Aston Villa, is regarded as another challenger.
Terry, for his part, is back in training with Chelsea, having been granted permission by Carlo Ancelotti to fly to Dubai last week for a holiday with his wife. While disappointed to have been relieved of the England captaincy, the defender, who returns to the Chelsea team away to Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow, has given assurances to Capello and Ferdinand that he will be as committed without the armband as he was with it.
The bigger decision for Capello surrounds whether to recall Theo Walcott to the squad. The Arsenal winger has not played for England all season because of injury and, having suffered a couple of setbacks since initially returning to action in October, he has yet to regain form or confidence. Capello or one of his assistants may take the opportunity to watch Walcott play for Arsenal against Sunderland tomorrow.
Another pressing issue for Capello concerns England’s training camp for the World Cup, but that should be resolved next week when he carries out an inspection of his first-choice site at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg. Capello was unhappy with the training pitches on his last visit in December and demanded an improvement, saying that England would divert to another venue, believed to be in Pretoria.
Royal Bafokeng reacted defensively, describing their pitches as “pristine”, but have since co-operated extensively with a British company hired by the FA to ensure that standards are met. The FA firmly expects to be give the complex the thumbs-up next week, when Capello and several of his backroom staff attend the pre-tournament “team workshop” in Sun City.