Barry given more time to prove World Cup fitness

GARETH BARRY will today find out whether his World Cup dream has turned into nightmare.

The Manchester City midfielder is set to see a specialist to discover whether his damaged knee ligaments will force him to sit out the showcase in South Africa.

Barry’s appointment was initially due yesterday, but the centre midfielder has been given until the last possible minute to prove his fitness.

Indications are however, that Barry, who has started in 19 of England’s last 22 internationals, will form part of the 23-man final squad even if he is only 50-50 to feature in England’s opening match against the USA on 12 June.

Boss Fabio Capello said: “Barry is one of the players we want to be fit. If Barry is fit, he will come with us. If not, he will stay at home.”

James Milner and Michael Carrick are jostling for the right to replace Barry in the starting line-up should he fail to make it, although West Ham’s Scott Parker and Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone could also benefit.

The good news for Capello last night was that the much-maligned Wembley pitch caused him no further headaches, despite warning from Blackpool striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who blamed the turf his ankle injury sustained during Saturday’s Championship Play-Off final victory over Cardiff.

Capello, however, is monitoring the fitness of striker Darren Bent, who missed last night’s match with a hamstring strain. Bent is hoping to commence training with the squad back in Austria this week in the hope of being fit for Sunday’s friendly with Japan.