FORMER England defender Gary Pallister believes John Terry will have no trouble asserting himself as the Three Lions skipper if he is asked to lead the side in the next few days, despite the cloud of ongoing Football Association (FA) and police investigations hanging over him.
Terry is yet to learn his fate after the FA and Metropolitan Police launched separate inquiries into allegations – which he strenuously denies – that he made a racist comment towards QPR’s Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s defeat at Loftus Road last month. England manager Fabio Capello has seen fit to include Terry in his squad to face Spain on Saturday and Sweden next week, and Pallister believes the Chelsea stalwart will have no problem commanding the respect of his peers, despite the seriousness of the allegations.
“I think the type of character he is and the fact he’s had to deal with lots of controversy almost throughout his career means he’ll be able to slot in just fine,” Pallister told City A.M.
“You can’t judge anybody until something has been proven – let him get on and play his football.
“Capello has obviously been briefed more thoroughly as to what has happened and feels it’s the right thing to have him in the squad. The FA won’t have taken this decision lightly. This is their stance for now and you have to respect it.”
While Terry is in the frame for Saturday, his regular defensive partner Rio Ferdinand will again play no part, having been omitted from Capello’s 23-man squad.
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted last week the former England captain would have to adapt his style of defending, having lost the trademark pace which helped make him one of the world’s premier centre-halves.
Pallister, who won nine major honours over the course of an 11-year career at Manchester United, sympathises with Ferdinand’s plight but believes he still has plenty to offer both club and country.
He said: “I had a similar experience to Rio in that I suffered with injuries as I got older and you just have to learn to adjust and adapt.
“Sir Alex would have said the same thing about Ryan Giggs a few years ago, who is now a completely different player to the one who used to tear up and down the wing.
“Rio is a terrific reader of the game and he’ll have no problems adjusting. He’s too good a player to just fade away because he’s lost a bit of speed.”
Were Capello to resurrect the Terry-Ferdinand partnership ahead of Euro 2012, a lack of pace would represent a legitimate concern.
But Pallister believes international football is a more forgiving environment and points to the success of France and Italy at recent World Cups in support of England two most experienced centre-halves.
“France won a World Cup with Laurent Blanc and Frank Leboeuf and neither of them were speedy, and Italy in 2006 won the tournament when [Fabio] Cannavaro was near the end of his career,” said Pallister.
“You can perhaps get away with not having explosive pace at international level because it’s more about technique and anticipation compared to the Premier League, which is the fastest in the world.”
Gary Pallister was speaking to City A.M. on behalf of Budweiser, lead partner of The FA Cup. To find out more about The FA Cup with Budweiser visit www.facebook.com/budweiseruk