King ‘confident’ knee will hold up

The Tottenham skipper had not played for his country for three

years, but his comeback, alongside Rio Ferdinand in central

defence, was encouraging on two fronts. First he scored the opening

goal in last night’s 3-1 win over Mexico with a header from a

corner. Then he completed the full 90 minutes on Wembley’s heavy

pitch to prove his fitness. For someone whose international career

seemed to be at an end when he was called up for the matches

against Slovakia and Ukraine 15 months ago but released without so

much as completing a training session, just pulling on the England

shirt for the 20th time was a major achievement. King said: “It’s

been a long time coming. I didn’t know whether I would play again

for England and it makes it all worthwhile. “I wouldn’t say it was

one of my best games but it was tough because Mexico are a good

side.” However, King has much more to aim for. England manager

Fabio Capello will now rest him for Sunday’s final warm-up match

against Japan in Graz. But it seems certain King will be part of

the 23-man squad Capello unveils on June 1, and the 29-year-old is

certain his body can cope with the demands of a five-week

tournament. He said: “With the knee I’m confident. This season I’ve

had problems with the muscle but I’ve put that behind me now and

got games under my belt. “I played three games in the last week of

the season so it proves I can do it and can play games in quick

succession. And the Wembley pitch was quite energy sapping. “The

more I play the fitter I get, and the medical staff are doing a

brilliant job to help me prepare for the games. “I will try to be

as fit as I can and we’ll see where it goes.” Although he took time

to adjust to his new surroundings, King did improve as the match

went on after scoring his first England goal for six years. “Is

that all?” he quipped when reminded of the statistic. “That was a

nice touch but the main thing was the team getting a result. We

played against a good side and found it difficult at times but we

got the result.” While King lasted the entire match, Ferdinand

played just the first half, with Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher taking

over at half-time, also ending a three-year exile from England

colours, the difference being the Liverpool man’s was self-imposed.

Ferdinand, however, was certain King had done enough to convince

Capello his body can stand up to the rigours of a four-week

tournament. Ferdinand said: “Ledley’s a good player and good

players play well alongside other good players. “I enjoyed it. We

both enjoyed it. He got a goal as well, which was great. “From

set-pieces everyone knows we are fairly decent and in the

tournament hopefully that bodes well for us. “Ledley had a great

chance to show the manager what he can do and I thought he did a

great job. “Mexico qualified for the World Cup and they are a good

team. We knew we were in for a tough game but by the end of it we

were the team that controlled it.” As a relative newcomer to the

squad, King is in a good position to assess the impact of the

present regime compared to what has gone before. And he has no

doubt who has made the biggest difference to the England side since

he was last in it. “There’s a lot of different personnel,” said

King. “But what we do have is a manager who is a proven winner. At

every level he has managed at he has achieved.”