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WORLD CUP 2010: Wayne Bridge is out, Ashley Cole could follow... so who has Fabio Capello got left?
Published : 25 Feb 2010 23:23:26
In the absence of Wayne Bridge and possibly Ashley Cole, Fabio Capello suddenly needs to find two left backs for his World Cup squad. MATT BARLOW examines the main contenders A Bridge too far: The left-back does not want to be part of the England squad with John Terry Wayne Bridge has backed out of England duty three months before the squad is due to depart for South Africa and at a time when Ashley Cole tries to mend a broken ankle having given up on repairing his marriage. Bridge has not played well this season - there was a case for considering others ahead of him anyway - but he is an experienced international left back, which is precisely what had kept him ahead of his rivals thus far. A couple of appearances as a substitute at the 2002 World Cup confirmed Bridge's promise and for a time he was seen as a possible solution to England's problem on the left of midfield. Bridge was at full back, though, for his low point as an England player, suffering a Wembley nightmare as Steve McClaren's abject side lost 3-2 to Croatia and failed to qualify for Euro 2008. So, what of the alternatives? Everton's Leighton Baines and Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock have six minutes of senior England action between them - all 360 seconds of which belong to Warnock. Both have been on the England bench without getting on this season but Baines seems to have the edge. He is more composed coming forward, over-lapping Steven Pienaar for his club as he would with Steven Gerrard for England. Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs is out for the season with a broken foot. Fulham's Paul Konchesky is also injured, Nicky Shorey has slipped out of contention, Luke Young, who played left back for much of last season, has retired from internationals and Charles N'Zogbia is only just English. Joleon Lescott, Matthew Upson, Gareth Barry or the ultra-versatile James Milner could all be pressed into emergency service there, but Capello detests the idea of square pegs in round holes. ASHLEY COLE (Chelsea)Age 29. Caps 77.One of the best in the world and England's first choice. Should be fit in time, but Capello has vowed not to take crocks to the World Cup and the slightest setback in his recovery from a broken ankle at a time when his marriage is falling apart will threaten his chances. LEIGHTON BAINES (Everton)Age 25. Caps 0.Like Cole, a fluent attacking force. Quickish with a sweet left foot and excellent delivery from open or set play. Good understanding on Everton's left with Steven Pienaar, who cuts inside so Baines can overlap, illustrated by 215 crosses this season, well ahead of Warnock's 70. STEPHEN WARNOCK (Aston Villa)Age 28. Caps 1.Told last night by Fabio Capello that he is part of the 30-man provisional squad for the Egypt game, he is the direct beneficiary of Bridge's decision. A gutsy competitor with a decent defensive brain, he is a converted midfielder, so is willing and able to get forward. JOLEON LESCOTT (Manchester City)Age 27. Caps 9.Endured an awful night at left back for England against Russia in 2007 and has rarely been back. Lescott is left-sided and mobile for a central defender but has been exposed at full back. Form has slumped since moving to City for £22m and he has lost the goal knack which was his trademark. GARETH BARRY (Manchester City)Age 29. Caps 35.Made his first England start as a left back against France before establishing himself as one of the country's most reliable central midfielders. Seems less than enamoured to find himself shunted back to left back occasionally since Roberto Mancini's arrival at City. JAMES MILNER (Aston Villa)Age 24. Caps 6.Only player to appear in every England game this season. Capello adores his attitude and versatility, earmarking him long ago as a deputy for either full back, though he's unlikely to plunge him into the role on a permanent basis. Milner has been superb in central midfield for Villa this season. England boss Fabio Capello hopes to persuade Wayne Bridge to join World Cup squadAston Villa star Warnock ready to answer England's left-back SOSCapello's captain crisis: Rio ruled out of England's friendly against EgyptTHE MIDLANDER: Stephen Warnock, Aston Villa's phoenix from the Anfield flames, is perfect for Fabio Capello's England