Fabio Capello's relationship with Harry Redknapp hit a new low yesterday after it emerged that the England manager was furious at Redknapp's public attack on his decision to pick Ledley King. It is understood that the Capello camp believed they had placated Tottenham by obtaining chairman Daniel Levy's agreement that King could be called up this week.
King, 28, predictably withdrew from the England squad yesterday citing injury just hours after The Independent and others reported that Redknapp regarded it as a "ridiculous" decision to call him up. It is understood that Capello and his assistants now regard any dialogue with Redknapp as a waste of time and they sent King back to Spurs without speaking to the Tottenham manager.
The Italian believes that their plan to select King was not as outlandish as Redknapp might have thought. Although King's chronic knee problems prevent him from training between games, they felt he had looked sufficiently fit and confident over the last four months to play a meaningful part in the England camp this week. They discussed it with Levy and had indications from those close to King that the player himself was amenable to returning for Saturday's friendly against Slovakia.
However, the difficulties that forced King to withdraw from the squad yesterday have, Capello believes, resulted from him playing the second half of Spurs' game against Chelsea on Saturday after his troublesome knee had worsened. Yesterday King travelled on the bus to Arsenal's training ground with rest of the England squad but returned immediately to the hotel after meeting services personnel who had been invited to the training session as guests of the Football Association.
Capello has singled out King ever since he took over in the job as a player he would like to bring into the squad. He picked him for his first squad in February last year against Switzerland, although King subsequently had to withdraw with injury. But it has been Redknapp's outspoken reaction to King's selection that has infuriated the Italians in charge of the England team.
Capello has clashed with Redknapp before after the Spurs manager launched a scathing attack on his team selection as a pundit on Setanta Sports for the friendly against the Czech Republic. After the game, Redknapp claimed that Capello was "killing" Steven Gerrard by playing him on the left side of midfield. Commenting further on the 2-2 draw in August, Redknapp said: "That was one of the worst performances I've seen from an England team. What positives can you take from that?"
Capello was so shocked by Redknapp's reaction that he said publicly before the following international match against Andorra that he did not want Premier League managers to comment on his team selections. He regards Redknapp as having broken that agreement this week.
Capello does not regard King's international career as being over despite this latest injury setback and would consider picking him again. The manager was aware he might have to pull out, which is why they named a 24-man squad, rather than the usual 23, with cover from Matthew Upson and Joelon Lescott at centre-back as well as Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.
The Italians in the England camp have privately suggested that King might have treatment with a Juventus doctor, but Spurs' medical department say he has seen all the top specialists and nothing can be done to prevent his knee's long-term deterioration.
Redknapp told The Independent this week that if Capello picked King against Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier next Wednesday it would mean he had "no chance" of playing for Spurs against Blackburn Rovers the next Saturday. "If he plays Wednesday [against Ukraine] it is disrespectful to us," Redknapp said. "It is ridiculous. It is not going to help him or anybody."
An FA statement said: "Ledley King has returned to Spurs Lodge [training ground] to continue his rehabilitation over the course of the international break, following discussions and assessments overnight by the medical staff of both the club and the England team... He will play no further part in England's preparations or participate in the friendly against Slovakia or the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine."
The Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch also missed England training yesterday but a calf scan showed no serious problem. Shaun Wright-Phillips also missed training with a sore back but is expected to participate today.