More time for Barry to prove fitness


LONDON, May 26 – England coach Fabio Capello is reported to be ready to give Gareth Barry until the last minute to prove his fitness for the World Cup.Barry has been sidelined since early May after suffering ankle ligament damage playing for Manchester City against Tottenham.

But Capello still named Barry in his 30-man provisional squad for the finals because he is desperate for the midfielder to perform the holding role in front of his back four in South Africa.

Capello hoped to get a definitive verdict on Barry’s fitness when the former Aston Villa star travelled to London on Tuesday for scans on his injury and an assessment with England doctor Ian Beasley and physio Gary Lewin.

Barry has got rid of the protective boot he was wearing to cushion the injury, but has so far only been able to jog in a swimming pool and has yet to do any sustained running.

However, the Italian will now give Barry until June 1 – the deadline for naming his final 23-man squad – to show he has fully recovered from the injury.

Barry, 29, has returned to Manchester for further treatment with his club and will not link up with England at their Austrian training base.

That means he will have had little or no match practice before England’s World Cup opener against the United States on June 12.

Yet Capello is willing to wait until as late as possible for Barry to recover because England’s central midfield, comprising Michael Carrick and James Milner, looked less than impressive in Monday’s 3-1 friendly win over Mexico.

Carrick was especially disappointing in the holding role on Monday, while the other alternatives, Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone, have little international experience.

With that in mind, Capello knows Barry is a vital member of his starting eleven.

"Barry always played with me," Capello said. "He is one of the important players, really important."

Meanwhile, England striker Wayne Rooney has shrugged off concerns about his recent lack of goals for Capello’s team.

Rooney has scored just once in his last seven England appearances and was shut out against Mexico.

The Manchester United star has been struggling with groin and ankle injuries for the last month and also suffered a neck problem on Monday.

But he had a superb season for United and is confident of rediscovering his best form in South Africa.

"Of course I’d like to score but that’s the way it is. If it doesn’t happen, I’m glad it’s in a friendly and not in the World Cup," Rooney said.

"Hopefully, I’m saving them up for then. I don’t feel pressure, I try and give my all."

Rooney has no concerns about his recent injury problems and insists he will be raring to go when the United States game comes around.

"I feel good at the minute. I feel good fitness-wise and I’m looking forward to it," he said.

"It’s a long season for everyone. I’m quite fortunate in that I haven’t trained a lot in the last six weeks.

"It’s a different atmosphere in the training camp in Austria and your breathing is a bit different.

"But, hopefully, when we get out to South Africa we will get the benefit."