Wayne Bridge has sensationally ruled himself out of the England squad – and this year’s World Cup – in the wake of the John Terry scandal that has dominated the front and back pages for the past month.
In a statement released through his lawyers, Bridge, 29, said his position in the squad alongside Terry, 29, had become “untenable and potentially divisive.” The Manchester City left-back was set to be called up to Fabio Capello’s squad for the game against Egypt – the Coach’s last squad before announcing his World Cup selection. Bridge has acted as long-term understudy to currently crocked first-choice left-back Ashley Cole both for the national side and at club level for four years whilst at Chelsea.
The player had unexpectedly found himself at the centre of a storm involving off-field allegations of an affair between his ex-girlfriend and former teammate Terry, and this move to distance himself from the former England captain may divide opinion in the Press and public, but ultimately removes the focus from unhappy teammates back to the football in a crucial few months for the national team.
Bridge’s decision now leaves Capello looking to a shortening list of available left-backs – Arsenal’s Keiran Gibbs is out with a broken leg sustained earlier this year whilst Cole is in a race to prove his fitness in time for the tournament after suffering an ankle injury against Everton. Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and even James Milner have experience of playing in the role but it is Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock and Everton’s Leighton Baines who are expected to compete for a spot at South Africa.
Currently, next week’s friendly with African champions Egypt is Capello’s last chance to try unproven players before naming provisional and then final squad lists in preparation for the World Cup. England are drawn in Group C with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia, and face the Americans in their opening game of the competition on June 12.