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Wright-Phillips' future doubly difficult

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15 May 2010 17:44:51

PIVOTAL SUMMER: Shaun Wright-PhillipsShaun Wright-Phillips is facing up to the biggest summer of his career as he bids to end his World Cup agony and sort out his future. The City winger's career is in limbo again - less than two years after he made a happy return to Eastlands. Wright-Phillips had the honour of scoring the final goal of City's season - a rare header - in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at West Ham. And he received the additional boost of making England's provisional 30-man World Cup squad, named by Fabio Capello last Tuesday. Yet that doesn't hide the fact that the 28-year-old's Blues future is uncertain after a wobbly second half to the season. Wright-Phillips was a regular under previous boss Mark Hughes during the first half of the campaign. He started all but two matches before Hughes was sacked in December, but missed the first three games of Roberto Mancini's reign due to an ankle injury, and has struggled to fight his way back in. Mancini's decision to play mid-season signing Adam Johnson regularly on the right wing - even though he is predominantly left-footed - has largely restricted Wright-Phillips to substitute appearances. The match at West Ham brought him only his fourth Premier League start since Mancini's arrival but that hasn't dimmed Wright-Phillips bubbly personality, as he is still as effervescent a figure as ever on the training ground And while Carlos Tevez made headlines last month for complaining about Mancini's occasional preference for double sessions at Carrington, Wright-Phillips has stated that he enjoys training just as much under the Italian as he did for Hughes. Focus He said: "Roberto Mancini has obviously come in from Italy where there's more focus on the tactical preparations, whereas Mark Hughes had spent a long time in the Premier League and we'd work a lot more on our counter-attacking football. "Personally, I enjoy training, so it isn't an issue." All the same, Wright-Phillips' post-Christmas appearance record carries a reminder of his struggles to win a regular place during his three frustrating years at Chelsea, for whom he left City in 2005. His lack of regular football at Stamford Bridge effectively cost him a place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad for the last World Cup. This time, the winger is hopeful that he will make the final 23-man squad for South Africa, which has to be confirmed by June 1. In addition to Johnson - who could also play on the left - Wright-Phillips faces squad competition from Tottenham's fit-again Aaron Lennon and Arsenal's Theo Walcott. But the Blues Academy graduate insists he is not getting worked up about his potential rivals. He said: "I don't observe other players like that. I just concentrate on my own game. "Whichever players do well while we're away on the training camp will deserve to go to South Africa in my eyes. "I'll just take that mentality there and try to stay positive." Wright-Phillips may have seen his first-team chances limited by Johnson's arrival from Middlesbrough - but he has nothing but praise for his team-mate. "He's a textbook winger - he's brilliant at creating the opportunities for other players to score goals, and he's left-footed, which could work in his favour as there aren't too many left-footed players in the squad," Wright-Phillips said. "But you never know who'll get picked. That decision will ultimately lie with Fabio Capello." Chance Wright-Phillips knows that this is his big chance to make it to a World Cup. He also knows that he is at a stage of his career where he needs regular first-team football. And with Mancini looking to revamp the squad over the summer, it is uncertain as to whether he can be guaranteed a big role at Eastlands. It seems a long time since he bounded into his first press conference following his return from Chelsea in August 2008 and declared: "I just can't stop smiling." He hasn't been helped by the way in which his father Ian publicly criticised the club in March during talks over a new contract. Wright senior accused the club of treating his adopted son "like a youth-team player" as those talks stalled. The winger - whose current deal has another two years to run - wanted a pay rise to bring him into line with City's higher earners, and has turned down an improved offer. Yet judging by the way he is talking about helping City push for a place in the Champions League next season, he still sees his future as being at Eastlands. He said: "We've always been an ambitious club, and I've personally been an ambitious player since I was young, but the difference is that now we're in a better position to achieve that. "Everyone was disappointed to miss out on fourth place, but that's football. "There are highs and lows and when you get a low you have to be ready and willing to bounce back, and that's what we'll be looking to do next season." How do you see Wright-Phillips' future developing? Have your say. | Submit Comments| Comments (11)| PrintWhat's this? Emaildel.icio.usDiggredditFacebookStumbleUponNewsvineGoogle BookmarksNetscapeTechnoratiWindows LiveYahoo! MyWebMa.gnolia


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