Jamie Carragher is happy to be England's flexible friend in South Africa this summer. One of the major reasons why Carragher announced his international retirement three years ago was he became fed up at being repeatedly overlooked to fill one of his favoured centre-half berths when either Rio Ferdinand or John Terry was unavailable.

Instead, Carragher either remained on the bench or had to slot in at full-back, which led to growing resentment from the Liverpool star and, ultimately, internal questions about whether he was making a worthwhile contribution.

In deciding to accept Fabio Capello's offer of an international return, Carragher has been happy to put such reservations aside. He clearly has a huge amount of respect for Capello's coaching ability, enough to accept making a contribution in any area of the field the Italian thinks is required.

"Centre-back is my best position. I think everyone is aware of that," said the 32-year-old. "But if you look at the squad, maybe the manager does see me playing a different position, which is something I will have to adapt to. Basically, I will just do whatever the manager says."

Basically, I will just do whatever the manager says.

Jamie Carragher, England

Carragher won his 35th cap on Monday night as a half-time substitute for Ferdinand, which gave him a chance to partner another old face returning to the England camp, Ledley King. However, as Capello looks to manipulate his squad, it is as cover for Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson at right-back that Carragher's place in South Africa is likely to be earned.

Capello is also aware he could use the defender on the left side, or even in the holding midfield position that Gareth Barry seems unlikely to fill for the Group C opener against the USA in Rustenburg on 12 June.

Happily, it seems that particular vacancy will only be open for one game following the positive vibes that came from the scan Barry had on his ankle injury yesterday. Positive would also be an accurate description of the feeling about Carragher's chances of being among the 23 names Capello unveils as his FIFA World Cup™ squad on 1 June.

After all, there would seem little point in the Italian going out of his way to persuade Carragher to return, only to dump him at the first available opportunity. Not that the player himself is taking anything for granted. "It's up to the manager," reflected Carragher. "There is another game against Japan and another week's training. After that we will see."

Carragher could not have wished for a smoother re-entry to the international scene. A good reception from close friend Steven Gerrard was guaranteed, but Carragher has been delighted at the warmth with which he has been invited back into the fold.

Part of that is due to his declaration that he would only return if he was not taking anyone's place which, with Joleon Lescott and Wes Brown both injured at the back end of the season, he has not done. There seemed no antagonism either from the Wembley crowd on Monday for the comments he made in his autobiography, which admittedly were more pro-Liverpool than anti-England.

"I thank the crowd for their reception," said Carragher. "As I said before the game, I could understand it if they weren't too happy with my situation but I think they just wanted to get behind the team before the World Cup and send the squad out in good spirits."

Having made his debut in 1999, Carragher has experienced a number of England managers and clearly has not been too impressed with some of the decisions that have been made. There are no such worries over Capello, who seems to have generated a universal view that he will get more out of this set of individuals, whatever that ends up being, than anyone else could.

"Every manager has his own ideas and different ways of doing things," said Carragher. "But Fabio's track record speaks for itself. Whatever the manager has done through his career it has proved successful. Hopefully it will be that way again."