The sense of chaos and muddled thinking that scarred England's woeful World Cup campaign has not gone away judging by the confirmation of Paul Robinson's shock international retirement. Robinson won the last of his 41 caps almost three years ago in the Euro 2008 qualifying defeat to Russia and was totally overlooked by Fabio Capello for the first 18 months of his reign. The former Tottenham man and he was omitted from the 23-man World Cup squad which performed well below par in South Africa, going out in the second round.
Even when Robinson was chosen for Wednesday's friendly with Hungary, it seemed obvious his would be a supporting role to Joe Hart and Ben Foster, who are set to battle for the No 1 jersey. Robinson clearly thought this way and promptly made himself unavailable. "Only now have I been able to make this decision as previously I haven't been in contention for selection," Robinson said. "As a professional who wants to play every time I have the chance, I don't see myself as a number three or four keeper and find that role very frustrating."
Sam Allardyce backed his goalkeeper's decision. "For the time being, England will miss him. They missed him the World Cup because he should have gone there," said Allardyce. "He feels that if he isn't going to be number one, then he doesn't feel the need to be travelling with England. You'd have to ask him if he'd come back if guaranteed the number one spot, but I would presume so. "Certainly at this moment in time, though, he doesn't feel that's the case. He feels that he should be number one and has always felt that way.
"As my player, I support him because I see him week in, week out and know how well he has performed. It's a big decision he's made, but I understand it." Kieran Gibbs, 20, and Jack Wilshere, 18, the young Arsenal pair, were two surprise names in Capello's squad along with Theo Walcott, their Arsenal teammate. Arsene Wenger, their manager, says the duo are looking "sharp"in pre-season. "Kieran Gibbs is slowly coming back to his best [the left-back fractured a metatarsal last season]. That is good news for us and for England I believe," Wenger told the club's official website. "Walcott and Wilshere have had a very sharp pre-season campaign."
Italy's new Brazil-born striker Amauri will not sing the Italian national anthem if he makes his debut tomorrow and instead hopes his talking on the pitch can silence critics of his call-up. The 30-year-old Juventus forward was named in new coach Cesare Prandelli's first squad for the friendly with Ivory Coast in London, but a right-wing Italian politician is among those to have criticised the call-up of a naturalised player.
"I know the Italian anthem but for now I won't sing it," Amauri told reporters as the squad gathered on yesterday. * Agencies