Capello goes extra mile to help Carroll's fitness battle

Striker still in the running for England debut / Bothroyd speaks of long journey to call-up
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The Independent Football

Andy Carroll was last night passed fit to train with the England squad today after Fabio Capello went to great lengths to keep the Newcastle United striker in contention for a starting place in the team to play France tomorrow.

The determination of Capello and his assistants to pick the Newcastle striker in the friendly against France became clear as events unfolded yesterday. The 21-year-old had previously been unable to train in the morning having told the medical department on Sunday night that he believed his groin injury was getting better.

In normal circumstances, a player unfit to train 36 hours before a friendly would have been sent home, but Carroll was kept at England's Hertfordshire hotel through the day and went for a scan on his injury at 5pm. The results of that scan were positive enough that it was decided the player could be kept on with a view to him training at Wembley this morning.

Capello has planned to start against France with Carroll, who has seven goals already this season for Newcastle, for some time and appears to be undeterred by doubts over the forward's fitness. If Carroll comes through today's session he is expected to be given his debut in the first XI.

Carroll did not have a scan on Sunday night having thought that his injury was better. However, he could not train at Arsenal's London Colney base yesterday. The rest of Capello's squad all took part in training and recovery sessions and there are not thought to be any more injuries after the withdrawals of John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Cardiff City's Jay Bothroyd, 28, the first Championship player called up to the England squad in more than three years, said that the last time he had been at Arsenal's training ground before yesterday was to clear his locker after he was sacked by Arsenal. The 18-year-old Bothroyd was dismissed for throwing his shirt at Don Howe after being substituted playing for the club's youth team and admitted yesterday that he had shown "stupidity and petulance".

Bothroyd said: "I [only] dropped it [the shirt]. Obviously I was a kid, very immature and arrogant as were most of the kids at Arsenal at the time. You have to go away and my road has been long, but getting the call on Saturday night [for England] was the best day of my career. I couldn't have been any happier, it was emotional for me.

"I think there are lots of players in the Championship who can play at a higher level. Look at Andy Carroll, for example. Six months ago, or less than that, he was playing in the Championship. Now he's in the England squad, playing in the Premier League and doing really well. There are talented players in the Championship."

With Arsenal team-mates Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere in the squad alongside him, Theo Walcott said that the experience those two have gained in the Premier League would give them an advantage. Walcott was first selected for England's 2006 World Cup squad as a 17-year-old with no Premier League experience.

Walcott said: "For me, it was completely out of the blue going to the World Cup in 2006 especially as I'd not played in the Premier League. I've always believed that if you're good enough, you're old enough to play even in the Premier League.

"Gibbsy and Jack have been doing fantastically well when they get the opportunity to play and that is going to continue for years to come. I'm looking forward to playing with both of them for a long time. It would be good to see three English lads playing for Arsenal week-in, week-out. I think it would be great for the fans to watch, too, not just for us being a part of that. Hopefully we can bring back those memories of the successful Arsenal days of the past."