Mikel Arteta has revealed that he had decided the idea of seeking British citizenship to play for England was "a good idea" before Fifa rules governing such a move were found to prevent him.
The Spaniard, speaking for the first time since Article 18.1a, which imposes the impediment, came to light, is understood to have made it clear to the Football Association that he would keep an open mind on the issue. But the Spaniard does seem to have been ready to pursue an England career. "If it had been any other country I would have said no, but I've been over here for most of my career, it's my second home," he said. "My family are here, my kid's at nursery, I have everything. So I was really thinking seriously about it."
He considers Article 18.1a – which stipulates that any player who wants to switch to the second of his dual nationalities must have held that second nationality at the time he represented his original country at junior or Under-21 level – to be the end of the matter. "It was an issue and now it's not any more, but at least it saves me from having to make a decision," Arteta said. "Rules are rules. We knew it wasn't going to be easy so that's it now." The Everton manager, David Moyes, said yesterday that Arteta had not discussed the issue directly with Fabio Capello, the England manager.
Moyes may have Tim Cahill up front with Marouane Fellaini against Manchester United at Goodison Park today, since Louis Saha and Victor Anichebe are both injured and Ayegbeni Yakubu is not match ready, though fit.
Sir Alex Ferguson has not ruled out the return today of Rio Ferdinand who was omitted from a United reserve game on Thursday because the quality of his training was good enough, according to the United manager. Ferguson does not seem to believe that Ferdinand's recurring injury problems should affect his ability to play a full role as England captain. "Rio had a nightmare season last season with injuries. The main incentive for [him] is to stay fit and if he stays fit he is going to be picked for England because he is their best centre-back," Ferguson said.
United will be without midfielder Michael Carrick for at least three weeks as he recuperates from an Achilles problem though Ferguson does not think Anderson's slight injury picked up playing for the reserves should impede his return to fitness.
Meanwhile, the United manager declared that Ryan Giggs becoming the Wales manager "will not happen" at present. "We have spoken and it will not happen, he is a player here. It's impossible to combine [playing for United and managing Wales]," Ferguson said. "We have to be selfish here. He's a Manchester United player and that's how it stays.
"At his age Ryan needs to use all his energy and concentration to be here. This is a big season for him, maybe his second last or last. We want it to be his second last and the way to make sure it is his second last is to make sure he concentrates on playing here."