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Carragher must stand by retirement decision
Published : 11 May 2010 09:07:00
Jamie Carragher is said to have made himself available for an England recall, but TEAMtalk's James Marshment says his pleas must be ignored. There have not been many better servants to Liverpool than Jamie Carragher over the years. When the long-serving defender stepped out at the KC Stadium for the final game of the 2009/10 season on Sunday, Carragher defied an ankle injury (that would have sidelined most) to play in his 435th league match for the Reds. It meant he surpassed the record of former captain Alan Hansen, and was his 629th Liverpool game overall. Impressive stuff - especially in this the day of squad rotation. However, I'm not here to bleat about the positives of Carragher. It's his commitment, or lack of, to England over the years which I'd like to let off some steam about. Having made his debut for the Three Lions back in 1999, Carragher went on to win 34 caps for his country before in July 2007, he retired from international football. A reason for his retirement was never officially offered, but it was widely suggested it was down to his failure to hold down a place at the heart of England's defence, coupled with his frustrations at having to fill in a variety of roles for his country. There was much written at the time of Carragher 'deserting his country' and of 'undermining the honour' of playing for England. In fact, he famously phoned up Talksport host Adrian Durham to deny accusations his retirement was simply down to the fact that he had "bottled it". As it goes, I didn't have a problem with Carragher calling it quits. Plenty of other players have done the same thing before him, and with an abundance of central defensive talent at our disposal, I didn't think the nation would miss him too much. However, if you make that decision, then I think you should stick with it. And to be fair to Carragher, he did - even when Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello did their best to change his mind and throw him an olive branch. But with rumours abound this weekend that Carragher has made himself available for an international recall - just in time for the 2010 World Cup, then something for me just doesn't sit right. We should know by 4pm today whether Mr Capello has been tempted to call Carragher back into his provisional 30-man World Cup squad. But if he by chance happens to read this, I'd urge our national coach to very strongly look elsewhere. As I've already stated, Carragher's efforts for Liverpool over the years can only be commended. But you cannot throw your toys out of the pram for England and then expect to walk back into the squad when the sniff of a World Cup comes around. Why not make yourself available for the 10 qualifiers leading up to the tournament? Would it really be fair for Carragher to shove say, Matthew Upson - a regular of the qualifying campaign - out of the equation? Upson, himself, has never been an England regular, but he has been here, there and everywhere with his country, with the only reward being to pick up splinters in his bum as an unused substitute. Some, however, may point to the example of Ledley King, who looks a certainty to win a place in the squad after a long spell away from the international arena. But it's a totally different scenario with King, who has had to be managed astutely and had his game-time limited due to a chronic problem with his knees, which would have forced the majority into early retirement. If King wins a recall, it's because of how those knees have been managed, as well as how the player has performed over the season. And never at any point has King come out and said he no longer wishes to be considered for international football. And there lies the difference: Carragher made his choice to call it quits. He should not be considered now just because England have a sniff at World Cup glory and he fancies writing his name down in national folklore. No, he should have thought about that when he didn't fancy the trips to Andorra and Kazakhstan. He didn't want to play in them, so my feeling is that he now shouldn't be considered to play in South Africa. Besides anything else, Carragher's best days are behind him now. And I think Capello would be better taking a chance on the likes of Michael Dawson, who I'm sure would welcome the chance to play for his country with open arms.