Ledley King passed his first full fitness test under the watchful eye of Fabio Capello yesterday, as he took part in a 35-minute training session at England’s World Cup training camp in Austria.
The Spurs defender has been in fine form at the heart of Tottenham’s defence this season, but his well-documented chronic knee problems could curtail any chance of featuring in his first ever World Cup.
But yesterday – supervised by his Spurs physio Nathan Gardiner and England’s new fitness coach Stefano Tirelli – King successfully made it through England’s first ball session with the rest of the group.
It means that with fitness concerns lingering over Rio Ferdinand – who has played only 13 times this year – King could yet play his way into Capello’s starting XI in South Africa. And with Gareth Barry still struggling to recover from ankle ligament damage, some are even suggesting that the England gaffer is considering King for a holding role in midfield to replace the stricken City player who has featured in 19 of Capello’s 22 games as England boss.
But it seems unlikely that Capello will trust him to fill a position he clearly feels is one of the most important in the side, particularly with King having already suffered mixed fortunes in the role. In 2005, then-England gaffer Sven-Goran Eriksson was delighted with his performance there against Poland, but a torrid time trying to keep a lid on Juan Roman Riquelme in the following game against Argentina suggested that it is not a position he can fill against top class opposition.
Instead, it would seem more plausible that the current England boss will be looking to blood King in the final group game, against Slovenia, in the hope that enough points are secured by then to warrant resting his defenders.
Indeed, with John Terry still resting from Saturday’s FA Cup Final, The Telegraph report that King was chosen to partner Rio Ferdinand in defence in yesterday’s training match, suggesting that a fit King will be Capello’s first choice replacement.