How to upset two goalkeepers in one move, Fabio Capello…
Paul Robinson’s England recall/retirement and Robert Green snub:
England are not blessed with such an abundance of goalkeepers that they can afford to lose any, but on Sunday Fabio Capello seemed to have alienated two.
Paul Robinson decided to call time on his international career and Capello declined the chance to call for Rob Green, underlining his status as scapegoat after his World Cup howler.
Robinson, 30, said: ‘I have taken the decision to retire from international football with immediate effect. Only now have I been able to make this decision as previously I haven’t been in contention or selected for the squad.
‘As a professional who wants to play every time I have the chance I don’t see myself as a No 3 or No 4 keeper and find that role very frustrating.
‘I haven’t had the opportunity of anything other than this in recent years, therefore I feel it in the best interests of myself and my club, Blackburn Rovers, that I concentrate solely on my club football.
‘I wish the (England) team every success.’
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce backed his goalkeeper’s decision, saying:
‘England will miss him for the time being. They missed him in the World Cup. He should’ve gone there but he feels, if he is not going to be the No 1, there’s no need to be travelling with England.
‘You’d have to ask him but I presume he’d come back if he was guaranteed the No 1 shirt. Certainly he doesn’t feel this is the case. He feels he should be No 1 and has always felt that way. As my player I support him.’
England manager Capello chose not to call up anyone to replace the Blackburn keeper. England will prepare to face Hungary with just Joe Hart and Ben Foster, suggesting nothing has been learned from the Robinson episode.
Robinson found his career as an England keeper virtually ended by a mistake in a vital Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia in Zagreb In October 2006, when a back pass from Gary Neville bobbled, evaded his boot and ended up in the net.
Green, 30, is getting the same treatment, ridiculed for his awful mistake against the United States in South Africa, he has been cut off by the England manager, not even called up after Robinson’s retirement, despite a very professional response to the mistake.
So, Capello has placed the country’s goalkeeping future in the hands of Hart, who faces his own battle for first-team club football this season, and Ben Foster, who failed to make the grade at Manchester United and will try to rekindle his Premier League career at Birmingham.
It is indicative of Capello’s efforts to give his new squad a feeling of the future. Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are unlikely to be central to England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, which starts next month, but at a time when the country is craving symbols of hope, the Arsenal pair meet the requirements.
Both are gifted and ambitious and likely to win their first senior caps against Hungary. Capello would have sent them off to Bristol with Stuart Pearce’s Under 21 squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Uzbekistan if he did not plan to study them closely at Wembley.
Gibbs, 20, is not about to displace Ashley Cole on a regular basis while 18-year-old Wilshere needs more match time at the top level to establish the best position for his undoubted talents – but their inclusion sends out the right signals.
This selection was always about striking a balance. Capello wanted to name his strongest possible squad without interfering with pre-season preparations of those just back in training after an extended post-World Cup break.
Only Michael Dawson has been called up from Tottenham, who have a Champions League play-off to contend with this month. Ledley King may never play again for his country but Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch have every chance of featuring this season. Jermain Defoe is injured.
Gibbs and Wilshere offer a nod to the future, while Theo Walcott’s recall is perhaps an admission selection mistakes were made ahead of South Africa. His professional and upbeat attitude would have helped the mood around the camp and his explosive pace would have been a weapon from the bench. The same can be said of Adam Johnson.
Bobby Zamora, ruled out of the World Cup through injury, gets his chance, helped by Emile Heskey’s international retirement. Wes Brown, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka are back after injuries which damaged their World Cup chances, one way or another.
Capello expects to be jeered at Wembley on Wednesday but wants supporters to get the disappointment out of their system before the qualifiers.
‘I just wanted to say sorry to the fans who joined us in South Africa,’ said Capello.
‘I know they spent a lot of time and money but we have to look forward to the European Championships. It’s possible they will boo us but we need their support.
‘This is not a good period for me but I am looking ahead. I won’t do anything differently because we only have a short time with the players. I will just try to create the spirit of the group.’