There were suggestions that the former Portsmouth stopper would hang up his international gloves following the disappointment of the World Cup and a drop down to the second tier has only served to add to this speculation. However, James has moved quickly to quash such thoughts, stating clearly after completing his move, “I’ll never retire from England, and hopefully my performances at Bristol City will keep me on the radar.” It is certainly clear what James brings to City, in a keeper who seems to have matured and continued to impress throughout his career. His experience will be an invaluable asset to Steve Coppell’s side. In the Robins, James believes he has the best chance of regular first team football, whilst also seizing the opportunity of helping the club become the first side from the West Country to make it into the Premier League. The South West as been sorely underrepresented since the inception of our modern day top flight, something James himself feels “needs to change.”
The question now is can James, who kept two clean sheets in South Africa, still maintain his place in Fabio Capello’s thinking. He has joined a very forward thinking City side who should be fighting towards the happy end of the Championship this season, but what of his counterparts? West Ham’s Rob Green was guilty of a mistake which ultimately cost England victory against the United States although many still see him as the most likely candidate to take up the mantle. Joe Hart won many admirers at Birmingham last year but looks set to keep the bench warm at Manchester City this season which will surely harm his chances. The Blues have replaced Hart with Ben Foster, who has been in the international wilderness for too long now and could be well placed for a recall, and with the return of West Brom to the top flight, attention could move again to Scott Carson. These names aside we can still consider Chris Kirkland at Wigan and of course Blackburn’s Paul Robinson, who kept more clean sheets than any other English stopper in the Premiership last season.
So James certainly has competition if he is to prolong his international career but it would seem that at present, nobody can consider their place in the England set-up guaranteed. As the season unfolds of course we will have a better idea of who Capello has in his mind for the European qualifiers but with so much competition above him, what better incentive for David James and Bristol City?