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England hope Barry gamble pays off

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By: Na 15 Jun 2010 16:19:05

England hope Barry gamble pays off

England will hope that the gamble taken on Gareth Barry's fitness does not backfire in the same way as with David Beckham and Wayne Rooney at the previous two World Cups.

Barry insists he has recovered completely from the ankle ligament damage suffered in the Manchester City-Tottenham clash at Eastlands on May 5. It was a similar scenario with Beckham in 2002 in Japan and Rooney four years later in Germany. But both players failed to make the expected impact as a lack of match sharpness inevitably took its toll.

Now the same question mark will surround Barry who is seen as pivotal to coach Fabio Capello's plans in the holding midfield role but is having to play catch-up.

He was not fit enough to feature in either of England's warm-up internationals with Mexico and Japan, the practice match with Platinum Stars or the opening World Cup game with United States, but England's failure to overcome the USA has accentuated the need for Barry to return in the must-win game against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday.

That will allow skipper Steven Gerrard to have more licence to venture forward from the left side of midfield and give England a better balance.

Barry will be grateful to be able to return against one of soccer's minnows rather than a footballing force and should allow him to ease back into action, but being fit to train and having the sharpness to participate in a match environment are different matters - as Beckham and Rooney discovered to their cost.

Beckham suffered his infamous broken metatarsal on April 10 2002 when playing for Manchester United in a Champions League quarter-final with Deportivo La Coruna at Old Trafford.

Argentinian Aldo Duscher was responsible for the challenge and it led to an almost daily update on whether Beckham would be fit to travel to Japan.

He slept in an oxygen tent and wore a surgical boot in a bid to make the plane for the Far East and it was a minor miracle Beckham was able to line-up against Sweden on June 2.

But a lack of match practice limited the impact Beckham was able to have although the lasting memory will be his match-winning penalty against Argentina in the Sapporo Dome.


PA

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