Fabio Capello has underlined the importance of Gareth Barry to his England FIFA World Cup™ plans. Following an examination of his ankle injury yesterday, Barry returned to the Manchester City camp for more treatment with no word from the England hierarchy. His presence in the squad named by Capello next Tuesday will confirm whether or not the 29-year-old star has won his fitness fight.
Given his side's below-par first-half display against Mexico at Wembley on Monday evening, and his own words on Barry's presence within the England fold, it is no surprise Capello is giving the City man as long as possible to get fit. Capello said: "Barry always played with me. After Owen Hargreaves it was Gareth Barry. He is one of the important players, really important."
Monday confirmed that, unless Scott Parker excels against Japan in the final friendly, Capello does not have a ready-made, in-form alternative to Barry without going cap in hand to Paul Scholes and asking him to again consider a retirement U-turn, or plucking Owen Hargreaves off the treatment table where he has spent the past 19 months. Those are the only realistic options without asking Steven Gerrard to fill the breach, something Capello is reluctant to do.
"Steven is really dangerous when he gets close to the box," Capello added. "If he has to play in the same position as the other midfielders he is good, but he is too far from the box. He has to get between two lines, the back four and the midfield. That is where you go to shoot. I am lucky because his performance level is always high, but while I like to go forward you always need a holding player in front of the back four."
Capello has confirmed Ledley King will not be involved against Japan after completing the full 90 minutes against Mexico on his return from a three-year international exile.
Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole are certain starters at the weekend, with David James also likely to be involved at some stage. The fifth FA Cup finalist in England's party, Joe Cole, is less certain of his place, even if Monday's performance lacked the guile he is capable of providing.