Fabio Capello considers the No 1 goalkeeper role to be up for grabs after the England squad's first session in their Austrian Alps training camp yesterday.
The England manager has not yet decided whether David James, Rob Green or Joe Hart will start their first World Cup game against the United States on 12 June. He is expected to start the friendlies against Mexico and Japan over the next 12 days with two different goalkeepers. The Capello camp maintain that it is completely open competition: Hart has had arguably the best season but has the least experience, James has no shortage of experience but is an injury concern, and Green has played the most recently for England.
Ledley King is being considered by Capello for a return to the holding midfield role for England with the Italian convinced the Tottenham Hotspur captain can stand up to the rigours of tournament football.
King played holding midfield on one occasion for England before now – for Sven Goran Eriksson against Argentina in a friendly in Geneva in November 2005. He measured up well to Juan Roman Riquelme on the occasion of that 3-2 victory but injuries and changing personnel meant that he was never given the chance to do it again.
The England players completed their first day of training in Irdning, the central Austrian town that allows them to work at altitude, with a few absentees. King was rested because of the number of games he has played recently, while Steven Gerrard also sat out with a minor back complaint.
King's form gives Capello a useful option if Gareth Barry does not prove his fitness in time for the flight to South Africa on 2 June. Barry was a last-minute choice for Capello and his general manager Franco Baldini, who had previously resolved to pick Owen Hargreaves until a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson at the League Managers' Association dinner last week prompted a change of heart over the Manchester United midfielder's suitability.
The squad has to be named on 1 June and Capello has decided that he will take Barry even if the player requires two weeks from that date to recover – meaning he misses the game against the United States. Barry, who has damaged ankle ligaments, is in the care of two specialists.
Capello also has Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone in his England squad who could both play in the role that Barry normally occupies. However the England manager regards King as a serious alternative. His day-to-day involvement with Tottenham in terms of training sessions is minimal and King is not expected to participate much in England sessions over the next few weeks.Reuse content