Sinclair happy to ride England's roller-coaster

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The Independent Football

Even by the up-and-down standards of professional sportsmen, it has been a roller-coaster of a week for West Ham United's Trevor Sinclair; and the ride is not over yet. Out of the England World Cup squad named last Thursday, in as a possible replacement three days later, he has made it as far as Dubai, but could still make one more stomach-churning downward plunge before grinding to a halt and being told to climb out again.

Yesterday he was whirling along with the broadest of smiles on his face, his mood diametrically opposite to that of Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, whom he seems likely to replace in Sven Goran Eriksson's final, final 23. Unless Kieron Dyer rises Lazarus-like from the stretcher he was carried off on at Southampton...

First, though, there had been the dejection of initial omission, and the need to pick himself up for a badly-timed last Premiership match of the season at home to Bolton Wanderers: "It was a good atmosphere on Saturday and I put on a brave face but I was hurting inside, thinking what am I going to do all summer – play golf? Go on holiday? My wife probably got the worst of it for a couple of days. I've been poor company."

Joe Cole, a club-mate who had received better news on Thursday, had to make the most of that company during a meal on Saturday evening, by which time news was filtering through that the rest of Eriksson's midfield was falling apart.

West Ham's manager Glenn Roeder advised Sinclair to keep his mobile phone switched on during Sunday, which he did in breach of golf etiquette, eventually receiving the call he had hardly dared to hope for: "I was ecstatic, the clubs went straight in the boot. I was straight home, telling the missus, and my mum was in tears, because she'd been so upset before that I wasn't in the squad."

As Steve McManaman fell by the wayside, Sinclair and Dyer had been the last genuine wingers in contention for a trip to Japan. Each had half a game in the final friendly against Paraguay, but it was the Newcastle man who got the nod, before getting the boot, high and late, from Southampton's Tahar El Khalej.

Sinclair feels that he deserves another chance, if only because he has been below par physically for his three previous internationals: "I'd probably not made enough of an impact. But I've not had a good run of fitness before any of my England games. First game, [at home to Sweden], I shouldn't even have played, I'd had a bit of an ankle injury, but it's your first cap and you want to play; against Italy I'd been ill beforehand and was nowhere near 100 per cent fit; the only game I was really fit was the Paraguay game in which I did okay."

England scouts have been to Upton Park this season more regularly than some fans, which has benefited Sinclair, a consistent Premiership performer. Earlier in the season it seemed it would be necessary to make the longer journey to the Stadium of Light to watch him, for Sunderland were favourites to take advantage of his disillusionment with a perceived lack of ambition at West Ham. "It was a rocky period when Harry Redknapp left and we had quality players leaving the club," he said. "But now they've brought some good players in and things are heading in the right direction again."

So is the former Blackpool and Queen's Park Rangers man. Yesterday he flew east with the rest of the national squad to the United Arab Emirates, well on the way but still some 5,000 miles short of his desired destination. A further disappointment could yet be in store. But better that, he claims, than the golf course: "I'm enjoying it now, I'm so happy compared to what I was 48 hours ago. I was absolutely gutted and now in the worst case scenario I know I was closer than I thought, and I'll have been part of it all for a little while. I'd rather come back from Dubai on my own than not go at all."

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