Bridge rules himself out of England reckoning

By Simon Stone,Pa
Thursday 25 February 2010 12:42

Wayne Bridge has turned his back on England.

The Manchester City defender released a short statement to Press Association Sport this morning claiming his presence within the national squad was potentially "divisive" and that he did not wish to be selected.

It leaves Fabio Capello without both his first-choice left-backs for Wednesday's friendly with Egypt.

The move comes after lurid details about a relationship between Bridge's former partner Vanessa Perroncel and Chelsea defender John Terry came to light.

Terry was ultimately stripped of the England captaincy by Capello, who earlier this week spoke of his optimism that Bridge would continue to play for his country.

However, after a lot of soul searching, the 29-year-old feels it is an impossible situation for him to contemplate.

"It has always been an honour to play for England," said Bridge.

"However, after careful thought, I believe my position in the squad is now untenable and potentially divisive."

It was the delicate balancing act Capello knew he was carrying out when he retained Terry in his squad whilst removing the coveted armband.

The Italian hoped Bridge would remain involved and was scheduled to see both men in action at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, when Chelsea entertain Manchester City.

Roberto Mancini spoke about the certainty of Bridge's return to the England fold but there was always a feeling the full-back held a different opinion.

Speculation that he would not even shake Terry's hand prior to this weekend's game hardly gave credence to the belief any clear differences could be patched up.

"Sadly, for the sake of the team and what would be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection," said Bridge.

"I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks and have today informed the management of this decision.

"I wish the team all the best in South Africa."

As Bridge has not formally announced his retirement from international football, it can only be concluded that he would consider a return should Terry not be involved.

Terry must now carry with him the additional burden of knowing his own actions have resulted in someone he used to class as a close friend missing the biggest tournament any professional can be involved in.

Quite apart from dealing with that fall-out, Capello must find himself alternatives at left-back given Ashley Cole is presently ruled out for three months with a broken ankle.

Attention will immediately fall on Everton's Leighton Baines, who has yet to win a senior cap but has been in outstanding form for his club, and Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock.

Warnock, 28, was named in Capello's squad for the recent friendly defeat to Brazil but his only international experience amounts to six minutes as a substitute against Trinidad and Tobago in June 2008.

However, the England coach will get to see him in action during Sunday's Carling Cup final between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Wembley and, unless Capello decided to shunt Joleon Lescott into a full-back role, he would be the favourite to face Egypt.

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