Fabio Capello’s powers of persuasion tempted Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher out of international retirement for England’s World Cup campaign. Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes proved more elusive.
The Italian coach yesterday named a provisional 30-man squad for the tournament after conceding defeat in his two-year quest to get “one of the best players in midfield” to reverse a decision to quit the national team six years ago.
“I have to try and select the best players and convince different players,” Capello told reporters at Wembley Stadium. “I asked (Scholes) and he said no.”
Scholes, who’s won nine English league championships and two European Cups with United since 1994, scored 14 goals in 66 appearances for England. The 35-year-old had the second-highest pass completion rate this season in the Premier League, finding a teammate 89 percent of the time, according to data collator Opta Index. He quit international soccer at 29 to prolong his club career.
Capello will trim his roster to the 23 required by FIFA on June 1. The squad will travel to Austria for a training camp next week and play exhibition games against Mexico and Japan before a final squad is named.
Five players -- Carragher, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Scott Parker and Adam Johnson -- have never played under Capello, who was hired in December 2007. The training camp will be an audition, he said.
Capello’s biggest injury concern is Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry, who will have treatment on his ankle before a medical assessment on May 24. Barry won’t join the squad in Austria and was close to being omitted from the provisional list, Capello said.
Tottenham defender King and Rio Ferdinand, the national team’s captain, have also struggled with knee and back injuries respectively. King, whose knee problem is chronic, got into the squad by playing four matches in 15 days, Capello said.
Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson convinced Capello in a telephone call two days ago Ferdinand was fit enough to last the 30-day World Cup. The center-half started 12 of his club’s 38 league games this season.
“I have some doubts about some players but we have to decide at the end of this (training) period,” Capello said. “I am concerned about the injuries. This is a very important part for me because in this period players are not fresh.”
Carragher, 32, had retired from international competition three years ago and returns because he can provide cover in more than one position. After speaking with the England hierarchy for two months, he decided to rejoin the squad two weeks ago.
“I selected him because he’s a really, really good player,” Capello said of Carragher.
Manchester City’s Johnson, 22, was playing with second-tier Middlesbrough at the start of the season. He made the cut after becoming a first-choice midfielder following his move to City.
“He played really well in the second part of the season and I want to check him,” Capello said.
Fulham striker Bobby Zamora, whose nine goals have fired the west London team into tonight’s Europa League final against Atletico Madrid, would have been included but for an Achilles problem.
Capello described Zamora as “intelligent” after he told the England manager he requires painkilling injections to play and would be unlikely to be fit for the duration of the World Cup. Zamora has never played for the national team.
England opens World Cup play against the U.S. on June 12 before taking on Algeria and Slovenia.
ENGLAND’S 30-MAN SQUAD Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham). Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester Utd), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa). Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester Utd), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Scott Parker (West Ham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright- Phillips (Manchester City). Forwards: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd).