City get shirty as fall-out over scandal begins

Wayne Bridge's team-mates put on show of support while decision over John Terry's future as England captain is expected by Friday
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The Independent Online

The first signs that John Terry's peers disapprove of the England's captain's behaviour over his alleged affair with the estranged girlfriend of Wayne Bridge emerged last night when three Manchester City players revealed T-shirts in support of their club mate under their jerseys.

Carlos Tevez, Stephen Ireland and Nigel de Jong all wore "Team Bridge" T-shirts at the end of City's victory over Portsmouth yesterday, although, despite erroneous reports to the contrary, the only member of the England team in the City side, Gareth Barry, chose not to. Shaun Wright-Phillips, a close friend of Bridge, was on the bench and was not used during the game.

The decision on Terry's future will be dictated in part by the attitude towards him among his England peers, however there are no signs of outright rebellion among the players – despite the City protest.

After further allegations in yesterday's Sunday newspapers about Terry's relationship with Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of Bridge's child, the England captain has not yet spoken about his situation. Fabio Capello is due back from Switzerland on Thursday and it is thought that the following day will see a decision on Terry's future.

It is understood that Toni Poole, Terry's wife, left the family home in Surrey on holiday with their children on Saturday when Terry played in Chelsea's win over Burnley at Turf Moor. Those close to Terry say that he is still in contact with his wife and has spoken to her via telephone since she left. The player himself has engaged the services of the public relations expert Phil Hall, who has represented Heather Mills and Gordon Ramsay, and was formerly the editor of the News of the World, the newspaper that first reported the alleged affair.

It is thought that Terry will not relinquish the captaincy before he sees Capello, either this week or next. He will speak to Capello's general manager Franco Baldini this week so that the Italian, who is Capello's eyes and ears around the squad, can build up a picture of the series of events surrounding the alleged affair and hear Terry's side of the story.

Terry is not thought to be in the frame of mind to resign as a pre-emptive act to placate Capello. There was more bad news for him over the weekend when it emerged that the woman in question, Perroncel, had enlisted the services of publicist Max Clifford, suggesting that she is not prepared to let the matter go quietly.

That would potentially affect any attempts to draw a line under the affair before the World Cup finals, with the likelihood that Perroncel would find herself a celebrity in her own right and likely to make further embarrassing disclosures. Sources close to Terry say that he is concentrating upon saving his marriage as a matter of priority.

Capello is still in Lugano where he is recovering from a knee operation and he will leave the information-gathering to Baldini who has left it until after the weekend to speak to those involved. The Capello camp is keen to avail themselves of all the details before they make any decisions on Terry.

Having made the extraordinary claim that Terry "improves" the image of Chelsea, manager Carlo Ancelotti said that he backed his captain and would have no hesitation naming him in the team against Hull tomorrow.

Ancelotti, whose team won 2-1 at Burnley with a late goal from Terry said: "John Terry is special because he is such a fantastic player. He's the captain of this team and he does fantastic things for us. This was a difficult game, more difficult in the second half, and he scored a fantastic goal, which could be the most important goal of the season."

Asked whether he has ever encountered a similar situation in management, Ancelotti said. "I don't have to manage anything. John has his private life. He has to control his private life. I have to control my team, he is a player in my team. He is the captain of this team and I am honoured and very proud to manage John Terry.

"The players celebrated with him because the goal was very important. It was a very important game and we wanted to win this game because we could improve our position in the table. It means that he is a fantastic, professional player because anyone can have a problem and it's important to stay focused on his job and he's done this."

England’s leader: Captaincy odds

John Terry remains favourite to wear the captain’s armband when Fabio Capello’s side welcome Egypt to Wembley for a friendly next month.

Terry to start the match as captain for England against Egypt 4/5
Steven Gerrard 7/4
Rio Ferdinand 10/1
Wayne Rooney 10/1
David Beckham 14/1
Frank Lampard 20/1
Gareth Barry 20/1

(Ladbrokes)

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