Ledley King's farcical return to the England squad lasted less than 48 hours after the injury-riddled centre-back returned to his club side Tottenham yesterday. He will play no further part in England's preparations for Saturday's friendly with Slovakia nor the World Cup qualifier against the Ukraine.
The move, taken with the full agreement of both the England and Spurs coaching staff, brings a predictable end to a bizarre couple of days. Fabio Capello sprang a major surprise when he picked King in his 24-man squad given the defender is unable to train due to a chronic knee condition. Although King joined up with England on Monday night, the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp questioned the wisdom of such a move, confirming if the 28-year-old defender featured against Ukraine he could not be considered for club duty against Blackburn on April 4.
King was on the team bus that went to training at Arsenal's London Colney complex yesterday morning, but returned to the Three Lions' base in Watford without taking to the training pitch. A couple of hours later came confirmation of King's departure. The decision effectively ends King's international career, meaning the last of his 19 caps came against Estonia in Tallinn in June 2007. Questions are sure to be asked as to whether Capello knew the full extent of King's problems before announcing his squad on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, Vicente del Bosque is uncomfortable with suggestions Spain are favourites to add the World Cup title to their European Championship crown in South Africa next year. Del Bosque was speaking ahead of his side's upcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Turkey, where Spain will look to build on a 100 per cent record from their opening four matches in Group Five - giving them a four-point lead over the second-placed Turks.
Victories in Madrid and Istanbul would put Spain within touching distance of a place in the finals, and also continue their remarkable unbeaten streak that currently stands at 29 matches, 27 of which have ended in victory and one of which earned them the Euro 2008 title. During that run, which stretches back over two years, Spain have also scored 54 goals and conceded just 10, as well as taking over as the top-ranked team in the world. It is no surprise, therefore, the Iberian nation are considered by many as favourites to win their maiden World Cup title next summer, but Del Bosque admits that does not sit easy with him.
"It's inevitable, but it gives me the shivers to say we are the favourites for the World Cup. These are just words," he said. "We have to be normal people and normal people know you have opponents to face. One day we will suffer a fall so we need to be prudent." * With agencies