The Great Debate: Club Vs Country

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer INovember 18, 2008

It's been an argument which has been raging for a number of years now, and one which seems to have grown stronger in the Capello era.

This past week, however, it seems to have come to a head, as England is due to face arch-rival Germany on Wednesday with no less than ten players missing, nine of which were likely to be starting.

Among the controversy were players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who were injured in matches for their clubs at the weekend, but look set to be in contention for next weekend's Premier League fixture; however, they've been ruled out of the International "friendly".

Fabio Capello, quite rightly, made them attend a physio session with the England doctors, to make sure they weren't fit enough to play. Both were found to be unfit.

Along with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, England will be without Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Emile Heskey, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole, Theo Walcott and Joe Hart, which may pave the way for starts for the in-form Darren Bent and Fulham's Jimmy Bullard.

The list of absentees, and failure to reproduce club form on an international level, has led to arguments over what players care more about nowadaysclub or country.

And what fans care more about.

It is a tough question to answer. Playing for your country used to be the top honour for an individual on the sports field and it, perhaps, still is for many.

But players such as Jamie Carragher and Paul Scholes have, in fairly recent years, retired from international football in order to extend their club careers. Although, Carragher also had the added motive of consistently being overlooked.

This caused much dissent amongst fans of other clubs, but Liverpool and England fans were left with conflicting emotions.

Many fans were quick to criticise Carragher's decision, but if, for example, you were a die-hard Manchester United and England fan, and Wayne Rooney chose to quit international football to focus on his United career, I'm sure the reaction would have been quite different.

Of course, the argument goes both ways.

Rafael Benitez has been particularly outspoken about these "pointless" midseason international friendlies, especially considering the amount of times Fernando Torres has come back from Spain carrying an injury.

Unfortunately, the support of the national team is dwindling by the year. The number of avid England fans are fast depleting, perhaps linked with their recent lack of success.

Personally, in a row between club or country, I pick country. I would much rather see England win the World Cup than Liverpool win the Premier League. Playing for your country should still be regarded as the highest honour, and you shouldn't refuse a call up.

I respect the decision of Jamie Carragher. After all, he waited a long time for his chance which never came, but I don't think he should have made himself unavailable.

If a player is found feigning injury in order to skip international duty that player should never play for his country again, no matter who it is.

In my view, that is paramount to treason.

Check out Jamie Ward's article on who should get the telling decisionclub managers or international managers.