King call-up 'ridiculous' says baffled Redknapp

Tottenham manager fears for future of his defender following England recall
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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp last night described Fabio Capello's decision to call Ledley King into the England squad as "ridiculous" and questioned whether it could have long-term repercussions for the Tottenham captain's career.

Redknapp told The Independen t: "It is a ridiculous situation really. He [Ledley] can't train, if he trains then it's seven days before he can play or do anything again. If he plays on a Saturday then it is touch-and-go whether he can play the next Saturday. Last week it was late on Friday before we knew if he could play [on Saturday against Chelsea].

"If he plays Wednesday [1 April] against Ukraine there is no way he will play for us against Blackburn on Saturday – no chance. I don't see how he would play in an international tournament, so in the long term I don't understand the decision. This international week was the best opportunity he has had to rest because even getting him right Saturday for Saturday has been a struggle."

The Tottenham manager was still hopeful last night that Capello might reverse his decision, despite a Football Association statement that it would "take no risks at all" with King. The Spurs captain met up with the squad yesterday evening at their Hertfordshire hotel for the friendly game against Slovakia on Saturday and the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine four days' later.

Redknapp said that picking King, especially in the game against Ukraine a week tomorrow, was "disrespectful" to Tottenham. The 28-year-old has a chronic knee problem that has defied all attempts to rectify it and instead it is managed by the Spurs medical department. Since Redknapp took over in October, King has thrived but the Spurs manager asked whether Capello's decision could set the player back.

"He [King] is a nice lad but he doesn't want to pull out of playing for England," Redknapp said. "He doesn't like saying 'No'. He hasn't got a chance of playing both games, not a chance, his knee would be so swollen. If he plays Wednes- day [against Ukraine, it is disrespectful to us. It is ridiculous. It is not going to help him or anybody. If his career has to finish because he has been pushed who is going to look after him?

"After he plays the swelling on his knee is like a balloon, by the time it has settled down and the physio has worked on him it is Friday before he can do anything. I had a meeting with Ledley [yesterday] and our physios have gone to speak to the England physios. He is going to be sitting around all week, he won't be able to train and he can't play in both games."

Capello and his staff, including former Arsenal physio Gary Lewin, now full-time with England, met with Tottenham officials yesterday. The FA attempted to play down the controversy by saying in a statement that King's fitness would not be risked. A statement released at 8.30pm last night said he would be "monitored during the week by the England and Tottenham Hotspur medical staff before any decision on training or playing is made."

The FA added that Capello and his staff "fully understand the player's injury situation". Explaining Capello's surprise decision to call up the player they said he "wanted to have a close look at him in the team environment as Ledley has not previously been part of a Fabio Capello squad".

King was selected for Capello's first squad, against Switzerland in February last year, but withdrew with injury. The Italian has overlooked his defensive partner Jonathan Woodgate for the last three squads.

Redknapp said: "Ledley can't even train all week. He can't even put his boots on. If Capello wants to work with his team in the week he won't be able to work with Ledley. It's crazy. I would never stop anyone playing for England but in this situation we don't even know if he is going to play Saturday to Saturday.

"On a Friday he does some stretching, gets a breath of fresh air and then goes back in to work with the physio. I don't see how he can play. I don't see how it can work.

"We have got him playing regularly after last year when he only played about four games [in the league]. We have done that with the right care and attention and just about getting him Saturday to Saturday."

King last played for England against Estonia in June 2007, after which he did not play for Spurs for another six months. There have been suggestions that Capello would like King to see a doctor in Italy who is a knee specialist although that will not happen over the next eight days.

The England team are due to train together for the first time this morning at Arsenal's London Colney training ground although King is not expected to be among them.

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