After much speculation with regards to his squad status, Wayne Bridge has announced he will not travel to the World Cup with England and is unavailable for selection.
The decision comes in the wake of allegations that former captain John Terry had an affair with Bridge’s former girlfriend.
Bridge has said that he made the choice “for the sake of the team” and to “avoid inevitable distractions.”
But, was it the right call?
For starters, Bridge has effectively martyred himself through a self-imposed punishment as a result of someone else’s actions. Through this decision, he is insinuating that John Terry’s position in the team is more important than his own and that he thinks for them to play in the same side would effectively ruin England’s chances.
That said, he can’t be blamed.
It is an impossible situation to be in and one that he didn’t ask for. Bridge must feel a huge conflict of emotion: torn between representing his country and having to face a former teammate who completely betrayed his trust.
Unfortunately, Bridge is also giving Fabio Capello a real selection headache ahead of the forthcoming friendly with Egypt and this summer’s World Cup.
With Ashley Cole injured and Bridge now in the international wilderness, experienced options at left back are at a premium. Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott, and Stephen Warnock are now suddenly in the frame for a starting position at England’s back four.
None of these players has enough international experience and would be squad players at best in other circumstances. But, Capello must decide who he is going to pick to line up in a team that is under constant pressure to perform.
The media was another concern to Bride. He is also absolutely right that there would be a media frenzy about their first match together and the inevitable speculation as to dressing room divides and training ground confrontations. But, that would surely die down if both players conducted themselves with dignity.
Whatever he decided, England would have had a major problem to solve. Now, it is just a question of selection rather than squad politics.
No one can blame Bridge for the decision he has made, but the facts are clear. He has, through one way or another, put his personal feelings ahead of his country and it is unlikely that he will ever play for England again.
What a bitter pill for Bridge to swallow after an absolutely torrid sequence of events, none of which was his own doing.
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