Gareth Barry, the England midfielder, will return from a six-week injury layoff and play against Algeria tomorrow, Fabio Capello , the coach, said yesterday. The central midfielder, 29, has been sidelined since he damaged ligaments in his right ankle while playing for Manchester City. "I know my team - Barry will play, he is back, he is OK," Capello told the British broadcaster ITV.
"There is no problem," Capello added on the BBC. "He has trained very well and he is fit." England were held to 1-1 draw by the United States in their Group C opener when Capello did not deploy the recovering Barry from the bench in Rustenburg. There were lingering doubts about Barry's fitness before the tournament, but Capello showed how highly he values the midfielder by bringing him to South Africa anyway.
The Italian is still undecided about two other positions ahead of the match in Cape Town. Robert Green's place in goal is under threat after his blunder gifted the Americans an equaliser by allowing Clint Dempsey's long-range shot to slip through his hands. "He made a mistake - a big mistake," Capello said. "In the second half he played well because he made a good save, but I have to decide. "It's a problem of the mind, you remember always the mistake. You have to chose the best keeper mentally at this moment."
Capello is also contemplating dropping Emile Heskey as Wayne Rooney's striker partner, with Jermain Defoe the potential replacement for the Aston Villa striker, who has not scored for England since last June. Elsewhere, Gianluigi Buffon, the Italy goalkeeper, is likely to miss the rest of the World Cup with a back problem after doctors said his recovery time was impossible to estimate following further tests yesterday. Buffon has a small herniated disc after suffering a sciatic nerve problem before Monday's 1-1 draw with Paraguay in Italy's Group F opener.
"Certainly on Sunday [against New Zealand] he can't be on the field," Enrico Castellacci, the Italy team doctor, told reporters. "We have decided he will stay with us and we will try everything for him to recover." Deco, the Portugal midfielder, has issued a statement denying any friction with Carlos Queiroz, his coach. Deco was critical of Queiroz's tactics and substitutions after Portugal's 0-0 draw with Ivory Coast on Tuesday, saying they were "strange" and "not as good as they might have been."
In a statement on the Portuguese Football Federation's website, Deco distanced himself from those views. He says he expressed his opinions "in the heat of the moment" and had not intended to question Queiroz's leadership. * Agencies