Neville thinks England career coming to an end

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The Independent Football

Gary Neville feels his England career is drawing to a close.

Although the Manchester United veteran has not completely ruled out pulling on the Three Lions once more, Neville would not be surprised if his 85th cap, won against Spain at Old Trafford in February 2007 proves to be his last.

The 34-year-old was called into Fabio Capello's squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra last June and made the bench in the second of those games, without getting called into action.

And with Red Devils team-mate Wes Brown again named as Glen Johnson's deputy at right-back, Neville thinks Capello is now looking elsewhere.

"To be honest, I am not looking at an England return," he told United Review.

"The time has probably come for Glen Johnson or Wes Brown now. They have done very well and I think they are the first-choice players.

"It doesn't mean I would turn down the opportunity if it came but it is not something I am focusing on."

If Neville's theory proves correct, it would leave England's ninth most-capped player one adrift of Kenny Sansom, who tops the full-back chart.

The Bury-born star made his debut against Japan in 1995 and went on to feature in five major tournaments, including Euro 96, when he was an ever-present until being suspended for the semi-final defeat to Germany.

However, he missed the 2002 World Cup due to a broken metatarsal.

As Neville was not part of the United squad for Saturday's draw with Sunderland, his omission by Capello for next week's trip to Ukraine and the concluding World Cup qualifier against Belarus at Wembley four days later was hardly a surprise.

In fact, despite predictions of mass experimentation, Capello has not made many changes at all.

The absences of Jermain Defoe and Ben Foster have been put down to injury, a hand in the case of the Tottenham man, with Manchester United's goalkeeper ruled out with an unspecified problem.

It leaves Ashley Young as the only player to miss out without an obvious excuse, his despair mirroring the ecstasy of Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is recalled, along with experienced duo David James and Rio Ferdinand, who have both had their injury problems in recent times.

The introduction of Agbonlahor is the most noteworthy inclusion though.

With Defoe ruled out of Capello's plans on Friday, before he turned out as a substitute in Tottenham's draw at Bolton 24 hours later, and the timing of Michael Owen's latest injury ensuring he could not be considered, the Villa striker has been catapulted back into the reckoning.

A star at Under-21 level under Stuart Pearce - a key figure in Capello's coaching team - Agbonlahor started the friendlies in Germany and Spain last season, but seemed to have dropped out of the reckoning since, especially as Defoe has been in such fine form.

However, Capello has stressed more than once nothing is certain as far as his squad for South Africa is concerned and Agbonlahor will hope for a chance to catch the eye at some point over the next 10 days, although he must first get through tonight's encounter between Villa and City.

Capello will be at Villa Park, no doubt with his fingers crossed, given seven members of his 24-man squad will be involved before they meet up in the morning.