Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is being begged to consider playing for England again after the national side found themselves in an injury crisis. Carragher announced earlier in the summer that he was tired of being nothing more than a squad player for England and that at 29 it was time to concentrate on his Liverpool career. He did say he’d consider helping England out again in extreme circumstances, but that was before an unknown journalist on a medium-wave radio station called him a “bottler”.
At the moment the England squad looks likely to be missing John Terry, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate for a game on August 22nd at home to Germany. But that’s just a friendly, and unless McLaren can convince Carra he’ll still need him for next month’s Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia then the Liverpool striker will not be wearing the England shirt again. When the news first broke Carra said he’d make his ‘final decision’ prior to that Germany game, but the feeling is that his mind is made up and he won’t be coming back. McClaren is hoping to get another chance to persuade Carra to rejoin the England fold, but not until he’s gone to the States to decide whether or not to continue using David Beckham in his team. The England manager is also talking about a recall for Sol Campbell.
McClaren tried to big up Carra, saying: “Jamie Carragher is a very important player for England and a very important member of the squad. There is no way I want to lose him and keeping him involved is my main aim at present. I can totally understand his thought process. I have every sympathy with players who want to play and feel they should. In a way, he has been quite unfortunate. There are players in every squad who can be effective in many positions, maybe sometimes to their detriment.
“I have had a couple of conversations with Jamie already and I will have another one with him next week. Hopefully the situation can be resolved because Jamie Carragher has been a great servant to England over many years and I want that to continue.”
Carragher wasn’t making demands or making a point when he spoke of ending his international career. He had been considering it for some time and a number of factors came into it, including the fact that his club had just given him a new four-year contract. He wanted to help bring more silverware to Anfield, and playing a bit part in England’s regular failures wasn’t so attractive. Speaking to the Echo last month Carra said: “I’m 29 now, and I have to accept if I’m not a regular starter at this stage of my England career, I don’t think I‘ll ever be. It’s going to be difficult for me to be seen as anything more than a squad player, and that’s not what I’m interested in now.
“Playing the odd game here and there for England isn’t enough for me anymore. My first priority has always been winning trophies with Liverpool. I’ve always seen England as a bonus. With the club good enough to give me a four year contract, I want all my focus to be on Liverpool for the rest of my playing career.”
At that stage Carra was prepared to give McClaren one more chance to convince him to stay, but perhaps out of politeness on Jamie’s part more than anything else: “I’ve spoken Steve McClaren and explained my feelings, but I’ve agreed to speak to him again before England play Germany before I make a final decision. I’m not doing this to leave England in the lurch. If it’s an absolute emergency – and by that I mean if all available centre halves are out injured or there are suspensions – I probably won’t say no if I’m asked.” So McClaren has to effectively convince Carra that having players missing for this friendly constitutes an “absolute emergency”.
- Further reading: For an excellent article on this situation, by James Lawton, see: “Carragher’s refusal to return based on bitter experience of England star system” (Independent).