Bridge denied chance to make his case to Capello

Manager returns but will speak only with Terry before delivering his final verdict
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The Independent Football

Wayne Bridge is unhappy that he will not get the opportunity to talk face to face with Fabio Capello before the England manager makes a decision on the future of John Terry's captaincy this weekend.

Bridge has been contacted by a member of the England camp over the fallout from Terry's alleged affair with Vanessa Perroncel, his ex-fiancée, but there has been no offer of a meeting between him and Capello.

Judging by behind-the-scenes organising, it would appear that only Terry will speak directly to Capello, a meeting that is scheduled to take place today before the England manager flies to Warsaw tomorrow morning for the Euro 2012 qualifying draw.

Those close to Bridge say that he would welcome the chance to have his say on the Terry-Perroncel saga with Capello. As the second-choice left-back, however, he is realistic and recognises that he is not the first consideration as Capello tries to solve the first major crisis of his reign as England manager. Bridge has made no firm decisions yet on whether he plans to retire from international football.

The meeting between Capello and Terry is now regarded as the key to the case. Capello is aware that if the England captain does not tell the truth and is later proved to have lied then it will be a major embarrassment for Capello. The England manager is also aware that subsequent revelations, especially from Perroncel, could undermine any immediate decision he makes.

While Bridge has been largely marginalised in recent days as the emphasis has shifted to whether Capello sacks Terry as captain, the Manchester City left-back has had support from fellow players. The "Team Bridge" line has been adopted by a handful of England players on their BlackBerry Messenger caller IDs and suggestions that the majority of England players have personally given Terry their unqualified support are wide of the mark.

However, the chances of the England squad doing anything approaching a militant act, such as refusing to play while Terry is captain, are extremely doubtful. As with most footballers they would be unwilling to jeopardise their own World Cup prospects.

Capello is eager to buy himself some time to make the decision on Terry's future and may not make an announcement today about what he intends to do. He recognises that he has to say something this weekend with his first official public appearance after the draw on Sunday when it is traditional that the England manager makes himself available for questions.

Capello returned to London from Switzerland yesterday amid hectic scenes at Heathrow. A collection of reporters and television crews were waiting in the arrivals lounge but Capello was escorted past them by Football Association security officers. The whole episode had a touch of the absurd with Capello's only contribution to plead: "No comment please. I just arrived. Wait."

If Terry is looking for precedent to dictate how Capello will feel about a captain whose misdemeanours have set off a clamour for him to be sacked, England's wayward skipper will take encouragement from the case of Fabio Cannavaro.

Second-guessing Capello is a dangerous business. His supposed staunch Roman Catholicism – which he has scarcely referred to in his two years in the job – means that most assume he will look upon Terry's behaviour very unfavourably.

However, commentators in Italy have pointed out that Capello comes from a country with a football culture – not to mention a political culture – that has been forgiving in the extreme to its transgressors. None more so than Cannavaro, 36, the hero of Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph, and a 131-cap veteran who was Capello's captain at Juventus and then followed him to Real Madrid.

Before the 2006 victory, Cannavaro was implicated in the "Calciopoli scandal" which involved major figures and clubs in Italian football in the alleged rigging of matches. In one tapped phone conversation, the Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi was recorded telling Cannavaro to agitate for a move away from his then-club Internazionale to join Juventus. It was a deal that was subsequently done.

Cannavaro's acquiescence led to calls for him to be stripped of the captaincy by the Italian sports minister Giovanna Melandri, ignored by Italy coach Marcello Lippi. Unsurprisingly, all those complaints were later forgotten following Italy's victory in Berlin that summer.

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