Newcastle’s tempestuous target man Andy Carroll has made considerably more appearances in the dock than he ever has for his national side, but the 21-year-old has been handed a conditional reprieve by England manager Fabio Capello and, as such, is set to collect his first senior cap this evening.
Speaking in a pre-game media conference yesterday afternoon, Capello confirmed that the Geordie tyro would be entrusted with leading the line against France when the two side’s meet in non-competitive circumstances at Wembley later this evening.
The veteran Italian also forewarned Carroll that he should not take the faith being shown in him lightly, and to consider his fortuitous debut as motivation to begin omitting the chaotic debacles from his very-public private life that have constantly served to mire him in controversy since he first signed professional terms with Newcastle in 2006.
Capello also admitted that Carroll had been overlooked for last month’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro because the Football Association (FA) had deemed a call-up ‘unviable’ as the striker is currently being on bail after Newcastle magistrates’ court delivered an assault charge earlier in the month.
Capello continued that, along with his many legal flirtations and a continuing torrent of tabloid exposés, a refusal to report for the England U21 squad to have an injury assessed back in September also effectively ‘counted against Carroll’:
“We didn’t select him for the last game. We decided – with the FA and (U21s coach) Stuart Pearce – that it was not okay for him to stay with us for the Montenegro game because his behaviour was not okay.
It [wasn’t just for the U21 snub], it was for everything.”
When pressed about recent gutter press allegations that Carroll wound up eating his breakfast in a local McFast-Food restaurant at 5:45am after the culmination of a considerable drinking session, Capello pleaded his ignorance:
“I don’t know about this [story]. What has he done? Look, a lot of people drink, no?
This is a big chance for him to play with the seniors and to change his lifestyle. We picked him because he can improve after he’s stayed with us.
You have to help young people. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re young. He’s really young – 21. We have to help him.
But he has to understand now he’s in the senior team there will be journalists, photographers, everyone focusing on him.
Life will be different. His behaviour has to be better. He can’t make mistakes like before. He has to be careful every moment of his life.
This is a big chance for him to play with the seniors and to change his lifestyle. A big chance. I hope that he will understand that.”
After staunchly defending his prodigy, Capello was then posed a rather weighty question when, from amidst the gathered press, came the quandary: ‘what level of criminal offense is enough to not be selected?’
Before Capello could reply with ‘incestuous rape, littering and defacing the Queen’s image’, an FA advisor stepped in.
The Italian had, the simpering FA minder insisted, once again addressed the Carroll issue with the organisation, whose core constitution demands the promotion of ‘acceptable and professional behaviour’.
The governing body’s policy is for the courts to decide, meanwhile abiding by the old adage that players are ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in their eyes. In short, as long as their £multi-million sponsorship revenue isn’t being threatened, then there really shouldn’t be a problem with the odd nefarious dalliance or two.