Barry’s hopes still hang in the balance

GARETH BARRY has been given until the last possible minute to prove his World Cup fitness after undergoing scans on his injured ankle.

The Manchester City midfielder saw a specialist last night to determine the severity of the ligament damage suffered in the penultimate league game against Tottenham earlier this month.

City initially set Barry’s recovery period at four weeks, but the 29-year-old is yet to convince Capello that he will be ready for the World Cup opening against the USA on 12 June – this despite the boss saying he would take the former Aston Villa man to South Africa if he was only 50 per cent fit.

A final decision was expected last night, but while Football Association?chiefs remained silent, Barry was given a further week to prove his fitness.

But the fact that Barry is believed to have returned to Eastlands for further treatment, rather than team up with the rest of the squad in Austria this week, could suggest that the odds may be stacked against him making the final 23-man squad, unveiled by Capello next Tuesday.

Losing Barry would be a bitter blow for the Italian, who has started the holding midfield man in 19 of the last 22 internationals for which he has been available.

Not only that, but he watched as potential replacements Michael Carrick and James Milner suffered indifferent games against Mexico at Wembley on Monday night.

It also gives the likes of West Ham’s Scott Parker and Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone an opportunity to stake their claim for a place in the final 23 with both hoping to get their chance in the friendly against Japan in Graz on Sunday – the final match before the plane leaves for Johannesburg.