I wanted to make sure Portsmouth were safe, says James
• I had shoulder tear for 18 months, says James
• England keeper joins Ben Foster on injury list
19 May 2009. Guardian Unlimited
Dominic Fifield and Andy Hunter
David James admits he has taken a calculated risk over his future involvement in the England national team by opting to undergo surgery tomorrow on a shoulder injury, an operation which will rule him out of next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra.
The Portsmouth goalkeeper joins Manchester United’s Ben Foster in being ruled out of Fabio Capello’s plans for the summer, leaving the Italian’s third-choice, West Ham’s Rob Green, likely to stand in for the games in Almaty and at Wembley. England will expect to prevail against teams ranked 137 and 196 in the world, yet Green has the opportunity to impress and, potentially, establish himself as No1.
Yet James, who is the only player to have started all 13 of Capello’s games in charge, has chosen to undertake the surgery now fearing the joint was prone to dislocation if it were not properly repaired. “I’ve got a tear in my left shoulder which I think I had about 18 months ago, but it didn’t come up until seven or eight weeks ago,” he said. “I didn’t have the injury diagnosed properly until about a couple of months ago but we just wanted to make sure we were safe here at Portsmouth before we did anything about it. We achieved that with the results at the weekend, so it’s allowed me to have the operation.
“Unfortunately the recuperation period is quite extensive. It’s a couple of months more, so I am going to miss a couple of the England games, which is unavoidable. The basic problem was, because of the recuperation time, I was going to miss games whenever I had the operation. Given the importance for Portsmouth to stay up, I would have ended up missing the internationals anyway. At least this way I can go back into pre-season and be fit for an interesting campaign next year.
“With having started every game under Mr Capello, I would have liked to continue that but the bigger picture is that, because of the nature of the injury, I could have sustained a dislocation at any given point and therefore been out for a longer period of time. That could have happened at a more crucial time if you like, so it’s the best of a worst case and I trust that the surgeons will do the right job.”
Sam Allardyce has hailed Paul Robinson as the best English goalkeeper in the Premier League and insisted Capello should have noted his part in Blackburn’s survival long before injuries propelled the 29-year-old into the international reckoning. Robinson is in contention for a return to the England fold for the games against Kazakhstan and Andorra after James and Foster were ruled out. The Rovers keeper has not played for his country since the 2-1 defeat to Russia in October 2007, which precipitated England’s failure to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. Steve McClaren, the former England manager, dropped Robinson for the vital qualifier against Croatia, when his replacement, Scott Carson, erred badly for the opening goal, and Capello has consistently overlooked the Yorkshireman since. Now, however, Robinson is favourite to accompany West Ham United’s Robert Green in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers on 6 and 10 June.
“I said it last week and I’ll say it again, if Fabio wasn’t at our game (against Chelsea on Sunday) he should have been,” said Allardyce, the Blackburn manager. “He should have been there last week (against Portsmouth) because he is back on top of his form and as an Englishman he is the best in the country at the moment.”