Gary Lineker: It's simple - Terry and Bridge are England's best option now

15 February 2010 07:46
Ashley Cole's broken ankle is a big setback for England because heis one of the genuine world-class players at Fabio Capello's disposal.

Let's not pretend someone can come in at left-back and be as effective as Cole he is the best in the world.

But it's no good crying about it. Capello has to pick another playerto replace Cole for the Egypt game on March 3 and hope he shows himselfa worthy contender for the World Cup should the worst happen and theChelsea man misses out.

It's my firm opinion that person should be Wayne Bridge, regardlessof his problems at Manchester City this season and a well-documentedfalling-out with John Terry.

Let's take the private matter first. The Terry-Bridge relationshipshould not affect Capello's thinking and I don't think it will.

Uneasy truce: Wayne Bridge (left) and John Terry must stand united for England's sake

They are both adults and the manager will expect them to put anydifferences aside once they are on the football pitch. In myexperience, most dressing rooms have a couple of individuals who don'tlike each other or who have had a row.

The important thing forany player is to help the team win even more so when you're talkingabout the World Cup. I am not even sure that Capello will pull Terryand Bridge to one side but, if he does, then I am sure it will be avery quick conversation and the manager will swiftly move on and expectthem to be professional.

The manager acted decisively to stripTerry of the captaincy, which means Bridge won't have to serve him asthe team's leader. But Capello will pick both of them if that is theright footballing decision.

That's the next big issue. Is Bridge the best replacement for Cole on footballing criteria?

  More from Gary Lineker. GARY LINEKER: The England captain must have the trust of his players06/02/10 Gary Lineker: Has Sir Alex Ferguson lost faith in Manchester United's £31m record buy Dimitar Berbatov?30/01/10 GARY LINEKER: Arsene Wenger can bury the myth that to be champions you have to spend millions 23/01/10 Gary Lineker: Something is rotten at Liverpool16/01/10 GARY LINEKER: Manchester United must be worried if City can afford to splash £10m on ageing Vieira09/01/10 GARY LINEKER: Why managers have to start caring about the FA Cup 02/01/10 GARY LINEKER: Even if City make it to fifth, will Mancini be there next season? Don't count on it26/12/09 Gary Lineker: Alberto Aquilani - possibly the worst £20m ever spent19/12/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE The answer, in my view, is yes. He is not as gifted as Cole and hashad some sticky periods for Manchester City this season with form andinjury. But he was the natural understudy before the JT story blew upand I don't see any reason to change that now.

Bridge is a solid and capable defender, good enough for Jose Mourinho to sign him for Chelsea.

Heis more suitable than the alternatives. Leighton Baines and StephenWarnock are relatively untried and not as experienced as Bridge in biggames.

I've seen James Milner suggested but I don't see the sense in switching a player who is excelling in midfield for Aston Villa.

Managerswho pick players out of position are generally unsuccessful and I thinka specialist left-back is required. It is a position that relies verymuch on establishing a unit with your central defenders and I thinkthat would come more naturally to Bridge than someone like Milner, asgood as he is.

Excelling: Milner (front) has been in sparkling form for Villa

There is a lot of knee-jerk reaction in football, never more so than when a World Cup comes around.

Only three months ago some people were writing off Rio Ferdinand and saying that he should never wear an England jersey again. Now those people are welcoming his appointment as captain.

Having played the game, I try to avoid the bandwagon stuff and give readers a more balanced, long-term view of things.

I know it is easy to praise someone to the heights after one good performance for his club or say he should be got rid of. But to be successful at a World Cup, you need players who are capable of performing at the very highest level under the most intense pressure.

If those players are identified, you don't lose faith if they lose a bit of form in mid-season. There is no point ditching them for someone who will never be able to perform at a World Cup.

I'm not saying Bridge is a world-class player. But after Cole, he is the best left-back we have better than the alternatives and should be given a chance.

Footballers tend to leave off-the-field stuff exactly there. So I see no reason why Bridge and Terry can't play together as part of a successful England team.

We hope to have Cole back before the World Cup but, in the meantime, I want to see Bridge and Terry together as team-mates at Wembley against Egypt.

 Why are the Pompey fans punished for this ineptitudeI have never understood why clubs who go into administration are docked league points. It seems a punishment that is totally separate to the crime.

The most important thing in the next couple of weeks is that Portsmouth survive.

But if they have to go into administration, where is the justice in them losing nine points, which means they've got no chance of avoiding relegation?

Innocent victims: Portsmouthsupporters deserve much better

Clubs normally go into administration because they have been run badly from a financial point of view.

But once they go into administration, the guilty party the previous owners no longer have an active role in affairs.

So they walk away unaffected and the fans suffer because their team are docked points. I know some Premier League chairmen near the bottom of the table might be delighted to see Pompey deducted points because it means there is less chance of them going down but that doesn't make it fair.

Those clubs are still in a healthier situation than Portsmouth so don't need the extra advantage.

Crystal Palace supporters have paid good money this season to cheer their team to the edge of a play-off position. Now, with 10 points knocked off, they are involved in a relegation battle.

The loyal Portsmouth fans deserve better than to see their slim hopes of avoiding relegation taken away altogether by having points docked.

 Delight: Zola

Good weekWest Ham manager Gianfranco Zola earns full marks for rebuking owner David Sullivan before the 2-0 midweek win against Birmingham.

Sullivan threatened morale by suggesting the players should take a pay cut but the little Italian showed he can look after himself by standing up to him and the Hammers players made it clear they trust their manager to keep them up.

 Bad weekTottenham's 1-0 defeat in midweek at Wolves was strangely lacklustre and showed how much they are missing right-winger Aaron Lennon, who has been sidelined with a groin injury since last December.

The Premier League goals have dried up since his injury and Harry Redknapp will need a marked improvement from his side in today's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Bolton.


Source: Daily_Mail