Young refuses to change his mind on England retirement

Fabio Capello's appeal for the Villa defender to reverse his secret decision to go into international exile has failed, writes Sam Wallace in Doha
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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello gave the Aston Villa defender Luke Young a chance to reverse his secret decision to retire from international football this week, it emerged yesterday, but was told by the player's representatives that Young did not want to play for England again.

The saga only came to light yesterday that Young, 30, who has won seven England caps in four years, told Capello after the friendly defeat to Spain in February that he no longer wanted to be selected. Capello and his assistants accepted this decision, but made a final appeal to Young to change his mind on Monday as it became clear that Glen Johnson would have to pull out of Saturday's friendly with Brazil.

The Capello camp had heard that Young regretted his decision in February and resolved to give him another chance for the trip to Qatar, where the England squad arrived yesterday. However, when the Football Association contacted the player's agent Andy Evans, they were again told that Young did not want to play.

Young was picked in the squad for the game against Spain on 11 February but pulled out with a knee injury. The other reason that has been cited for his unwillingness to play international football was the death of his brother Andre, 17, in Crete in August. However, it is understood that Young's mind was made up before then.

Young told Villa's in-house television channel that he had "picked up niggling thigh injuries" last season. He added: "The family bereavement was difficult to get over. But I am ready to concentrate on football now and I'm looking forward to playing. In the first few weeks after what happened I didn't really want to do anything. It was really tough early on."

Young's decision came to light as the competition between his Villa team-mates James Milner, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young heats up for a place in the World Cup finals squad. Agbonlahor is not in the current squad, and Capello is still yet to see the injured Villa winger Stewart Downing in action this season. Milner said: "There is competition between the Villa players now and we just don't talk about it. We've got a lot of good English players at the club all hoping to be in the squad, but the more Villa players in it the better season we have had.

"I suppose it is unusual for so many players from the same club to be competing for same place. If the others miss out, you would be disappointed for them and pleased for yourself – that's just the way it is."