England crisis as Green set to quit

Capello faces keeper problem with West Ham No 1 poised to follow Foster into retirement

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The England manager, Fabio Capello, and his staff fear a goalkeeper crisis as it emerged yesterday that there are major concerns Robert Green will also retire from international football following hard on the heels of Ben Foster's decision this week to take an indefinite sabbatical.

Green, 31, who has 11 caps, told England staff after the friendly against Ghana in March – a game in which he had expected to play but was an unused substitute – that he no longer wanted to be selected for his country. In response, England staff told him to take his time over his decision and that he would be contacted ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland on 4 June.

Capello and his staff are hopeful that Foster's withdrawal will convince Green that he has a future with the England squad as the No 2 to Joe Hart. They will not contact him until after West Ham's crucial game away to Wigan on Sunday which could decide their Premier League fate.

Having initially been left out by Capello after the World Cup finals, the West Ham goalkeeper was called up for the squads to face Montenegro in October and France in November. He was a late replacement to the Denmark squad in February and was named in the most recent squad in March. Capello had hinted that Green was likely to feature as a substitute against Ghana, three days after the qualifier in Cardiff, but instead he opted to keep him on the bench.

Green has not played for England since his mistake against the United States in the first group game of last summer's ill-fated World Cup finals and is understood to be fed up with being so far down the pecking order. Up until Foster's sabbatical, the West Ham goalkeeper was Capello's third choice.

With West Ham almost certain to be relegated, it is anticipated that Green will leave this summer. He now has a young family and, like Foster, is more concerned about making a success of his club career.

It leaves Capello with a worrying dearth of back-up options in the event of an injury to Hart. Next in line would be the West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Scott Carson, who played a major part in England's 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley in November 2007 which meant they missed out on qualification for Euro 2008. Carson, who has three caps, is not thought to be hugely enthusiastic about an international career.

After that there is the uncapped David Stockdale, who is not even first choice at Fulham; Scott Loach at Watford; Derby County's Frankie Fielding and the 40-year-old David James who, now playing for Bristol City in the Championship, has not retired from international football. Having been installed as No 1 in South Africa last summer after Green's gaffe against the US, James has been ignored by Capello.

The dilemma shows the difficulty of keeping modern-day international footballers interested in the England team when they are required to spend days and weeks away from family and very often not figure as part of the action.

Green made his debut for England almost six years ago against Colombia but has had an up and down career, even at one point wearing a pair of gloves embossed with the line "England's No 6". He played five of the seven games in the run-up to the World Cup finals but was left to wait until the last minute to find out he was selected ahead of James for the US game.

Should Green not make himself available for selection for the game against Switzerland he will be the third English goalkeeper in nine months who has withdrawn his services from international football, starting with Paul Robinson, the former first choice, in August.

There are a number of English players still playing club football who have retired from the international game including Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher, Wayne Bridge, Wes Brown and Luke Young, as well as Foster and Robinson.

Capello has no plans to speak to Rio Ferdinand about the transferral of the captaincy to John Terry before the pair encounter each for the first time ahead of the Switzerland game. Ferdinand is expected to be named in Capello's squad announced on 23 May, the day after the last Premier League fixtures.

Who is next in line to be Hart's back-up for England?

David Stockdale Fulham

Called up to squad against Denmark in February. Back-up to Mark Schwarzer at Craven Cottage, but has kept five clean sheets in 10 games this season.

Scott Loach Watford

First-choice with Under-21s, with 14 caps. Called up to full England squad twice. Has been No 1 at Vicarage Road for the last three seasons.

Frankie Fielding Derby County

Former Under-21 keeper called up to full squad against Hungary in August. Joined Derby from Blackburn this week after a period on loan.

David James Bristol City

Could he be set for another comeback, three months shy of 41st birthday. However, has endured a poor season at Ashton Gate.

Joe Lewis Peterborough

Has made over 100 appearances for Posh and five games for Under-21s, as well as a call-up to the senior squad in 2008. Expected to leave London Road after the League One play-offs.