England fringe players aim to impress

Given the turbulence they have left behind, England's players are probably quite relieved to begin their World Cup preparations high up in the mountains, where the air is somewhat clearer.

As the fall-out from Lord Triesman's damaging comments rumbles on, Fabio Capello, himself embroiled in so much controversy a week ago, is starting to plot and plan for the Group C opener against the United States in Rustenburg on June 12.

Happily, no fresh injuries have been reported amongst the 24 players currently on duty in the Austrian resort of Irdning and everyone has been able to play some part in the opening two days of training.

Quite how far that extends in Ledley King's case is a moot point.

King is not able to train properly due to his chronic knee problems, although that did not prevent Capello picking him in his 30-man provisional squad.

However, the Italian will need to be certain the Tottenham captain can make a meaningful contribution in South Africa before handing him one of the 23 plane tickets available for departure on June 2.

King's ability is certainly not in question. However, getting up to speed with the defensive formations of a coach he has never previously worked with, or players he has rarely played alongside, is not going to be easy for him or Jamie Carragher, who has abandoned his international retirement for one last shot at the biggest prize the game has to offer.

For someone who cannot play a meaningful role in training, the task is almost impossible, so Capello will need to assess just how much work King can do over the next fortnight before pursuing the matter any further.

With Gareth Barry's participation hanging in the balance - and due to be determined by the results of a May 24 scan on the ankle injury he suffered in Manchester City's home defeat by Tottenham a fortnight ago, Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker will also be keen to impress Capello.

The same is also true of Michael Carrick, for a somewhat different reason.

Twelve months ago, Carrick would have been viewed as an automatic replacement for Barry in Capello's preferred starting line-up.

However, the England coach's attempt to coax Paul Scholes out of retirement suggests he is acutely aware of Carrick's slump in form.

And, given both Huddlestone and Parker both ended the season approaching their peak, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Carrick could miss out altogether.

One thing England do know is that when they return, they are guaranteed to play in front of a sell-out Wembley on May 24, when they tackle Mexico.

The FA have posted house-full signs for the last game on home turf before Capello and his players head to South Africa, although preparations will not be concluded until the Three Lions tackle Japan in Graz on May 30.

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