Belfast Telegraph

Scholes says ‘no’ to World Cup bid

England coach Fabio Capello has confirmed Paul Scholes refused an invitation to join England's World Cup squad.

Capello unveiled his 30-man provisional squad yesterday, which included Jamie Carragher, who he successfully managed to talk out of retirement ahead of this summer's tournament in South Africa.

Yet Capello's hopes of having a double cause for celebration were dashed by Scholes, who quit the international scene after Euro 2004, sick of being played out of position by Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The 35-year-old has never given the impression of missing England duty, which took him away from his family for far too long for his liking.

And, although Capello had one last attempt to try and bring the midfield schemer into the Three Lions' fold once more, the answer was unequivocal.

“I tried. It was up to him. He said no,” said Capello.

“We have been monitoring him for the second part of the season and he has played very well.

“We tried to convince him to come back for England because he is one of the best players. But he preferred to stay with his family.”

It was an answer Sir Alex Ferguson predicted any request from Capello would receive and is a blow, especially as fellow veteran David Beckham has been ruled out with a ruptured Achilles.

Thankfully for the Italian, he had more luck with Carragher, who provided a positive reaction when he was first approached two months ago, and then confirmed his intentions over the past fortnight when it became clear Liverpool were not going to qualify for the Champions League.

“The World Cup and the Champions League are the highest levels of football,” said Carragher.

“I am not getting any younger, we have no Champions League next season and I am keen to work under Fabio Capello.”

The magnetism Capello has attracted since he succeeded Steve McClaren in December 2007 has taken a knock in the past 24 hours after he was submerged by a storm of criticism in the wake of the ‘Capello Index' he publicly endorsed yesterday.

After discussing the matter with senior figures within the Football Association, a statement was released confirming the project had been shelved until after the World Cup at least. Capello certainly did not intend getting drawn into any further debate over the issue, as he tried to concentrate on the important business of the day.

“This is an interview about the 30 players that I have chosen — not about what happened yesterday,” he said.

Once a decision had been taken to select Gareth Barry, even though Capello will not discover until May 24 whether the Manchester City star has any chance of making the trip to South Africa, the rest of Capello's squad slotted easily into place.

As with Scholes, Bobby Zamora was also offered the opportunity to make the 30-man provisional party that will undertake two training camps in Austria and play a couple of friendlies, against Mexico at Wembley on May 24 and Japan in Graz on May 30.

However, the uncapped Fulham striker made the brave decision to say no, aware the Achilles complaint that is likely to require an operation this summer.

Discussions also took place with Owen Hargreaves, but after just one minute of senior action since October 2008, Capello wisely rejected the idea.

It left a further decision to be made about Ledley King, whose chronic knee condition prevents him from training and, according to Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, restricts him to one game every six days.

Yet King managed to get through Tottenham's last four games in the space of 15 days.

“Ledley King is one of the best England defenders,” reflected Capello. “He played four games in the last 15 days and said there were no problem with the knee. He said his knee was getting better. For this reason he will come with us to Austria.”

King will be accompanied by Spurs team-mate Michael Dawson, along with Manchester City's Adam Johnson, the only uncapped members of Capello's squad, which has to be whittled down to 23 before the deadline on June 1.

Belfast Telegraph


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