Bridge’s exit adds to England's troubled waters
Wayne Bridge retired from international football yesterday after it became clear that there was no hint of remorse from John Terry over his alleged affair with Bridge's ex-fiancee, Vanessa Perroncel.
The two players have spoken briefly just once since the scandal broke when Terry called Bridge's mobile phone from a withheld number.
Terry had previously called and sent text messages to Bridge — to which he did not respond — none of which gave the Manchester City left-back any indication that he was prepare to accept responsibility for his alleged affair with Perroncel and its consequences.
The whole sorry saga, which Terry tried to conceal with an injunction on the News of the World last month, has now lost Fabio Capello a captain — after he was forced to sack Terry — and his understudy left-back Bridge.
With Ashley Cole out with a broken left ankle and not guaranteed to play at the World Cup in June, the England team has hit yet another injury crisis.
Bridge spoke to senior officials in Capello's staff yesterday morning who tried to talk him out of retiring — having originally thought that they had persuaded him not to quit as a result of his rift with Terry.
The left-back has been mulling over the decision on his international future long before the news of the alleged affair became public.
A source in the Capello camp said: “No-one can feel as he [Bridge] feels at the moment.
“He was told it would be silly to give up an opportunity to play in the World Cup but obviously he has changed his mind a lot in the last three or four weeks.
“He has been thinking about it every day.
“He just cannot carry on with the scandal so he has decided to give it up. He was told how much we care about him.
“He's a really nice guy. He was told how disappointed we are with this decision.”
Bridge made his decision public yesterday in order that he was not named in the 30-strong provisional squad for England's friendly against Egypt on Wednesday, that is slimmed down to 23 names tomorrow evening.
The 29-year-old released a short statement through his solicitors saying that his position in the squad had been made “untenable and potentially divisive”.
Bridge has not spoken to Capello since the Terry scandal broke last month but he has had extensive conversations with the team's general manager Franco Baldini.
Sources close to Bridge said yesterday that the player wanted to make a point that he was not simply going to forgive Terry for what Bridge regarded as a distressing and humiliating episode.
Had he joined up with England this weekend, Bridge accepted that he would have had to put aside his differences for the sake of the team which in turn he thought Terry would have regarded as an end to the saga.
Bridge was not prepared to do that even if it means not playing in the World Cup finals this June.
A source in the Capello camp said: “We wish him [Bridge] all the best. The door is always open but apparently this is his final decision.”
It is understood that Leighton Baines of Everton and Blackburn's Stephen Warnock will both be named in the England squad on Saturday.
Bridge said in his statement: “I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks.
“It has always been an honour to play for England. However, after careful thought I believe my position in the squad is now untenable and potentially divisive.
“Sadly therefore I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection.
“I have informed the management of this decision. I wish the team all the very best in South Africa.”
There are also major concerns over Rio Ferdinand, the new captain who will also miss next week's friendly. He will not play until United's home game with Fulham on 14 March at the earliest, with a back problem.
Even so, Tottenham's Ledley King is not under consideration. Sir Alex Ferguson is willing to allow Ferdinand to join the England camp ahead of next Wednesday's match with Egypt.
“I think that's entirely up to Fabio he can do that. No problem for me,” said Ferguson.
Still on the injury front, it was confirmed yesterday that Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech will be out for at least a month after tearing a calf muscle in Wednesday night's 2-1 Champions League defeat by Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Cech was carried off on a stretcher in the second half after damaging his calf when collecting a cross.
The Czech Republic international underwent further scans on the injury yesterday and the club have now confirmed that Cech will be out for up to a month.
It means he will miss tomorrow's clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge and the return leg against Inter Milan on March 16.
A spokesman for Chelsea said: “Today's scans confirm that Petr Cech suffered a tear in a calf muscle in the Inter game. He is expected to be out for three to four weeks.”