Dignified Walcott wishes England luck

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Football News

England depart for South Africa with a World Cup good luck message delivered through tears of pain from Theo Walcott.

It is a measure of the Arsenal man's development that he responded in the most appropriate manner to being axed by Fabio Capello.

"I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello's decision," said Walcott. "I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament."

Shaun Wright-Phillips is the obvious beneficiary and can probably count himself rather fortunate.

After all, the 28-year-old was consistently overlooked by Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, who has preferred the talents of new recruit Adam Johnson. As in-form Johnson was also in that provisional squad, he might have been a more obvious choice.

But Capello has been wary of drafting in someone who started the season in the Coca-Cola Championship and Johnson's admission that he found it difficult to breathe during his debut against Mexico probably made the manager's mind up about a player who will almost certainly be a member of his squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers when they get under way in September.

The other surprise inclusion was Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock, who bizarrely did not feature at all in the last three friendlies, when Leighton Baines started twice.

But Baines' frank revelation that he could struggle with homesickness if he spent six weeks away from his family must have rung alarm bells for Capello, hence Warnock's inclusion as Ashley Cole's deputy.

Assurances that Gareth Barry, at the very least, will be fit to play a full part in training immediately after the Group C opener against the United States on June 12 meant the remainder of England's 23-man squad was as expected.

Like Warnock, neither Scott Parker nor Michael Dawson played a minute of the last two friendlies and Michael Carrick had built up a big enough bank of goodwill to hold off the midfield challenge of Tom Huddlestone. As Darren Bent found against Brazil in November and Japan on Sunday, 25 goals for Sunderland does not necessarily equate to scoring form on the international arena.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Tom Huddlestone
Ashley Cole
Michael Dawson
Scott Parker
Manchester City
Gareth Barry
Premier League
Michael Carrick
Stephen Warnock
Aston Villa
Darren Bent
Leighton Baines
Adam Johnson
Shaun Wright-Phillips
Theo Walcott

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