Rio De Janeiro – England captain Steven Gerrard has described allegations that English players have deliberately wriggled out of international duty as “disgusting” and called on those concerned to be publicly named and shamed.
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp claimed on Sunday that during his time at Tottenham Hotspur, “there were two or three players who did not want to play for England”.
Redknapp told BBC radio: “They would come to me 10 days before the game and say, 'Gaffer, get me out of that game. I don't want to play in that game.'
“That was how it was. I'd say, 'You're playing for your country, you should want to play.'
“(They would say) 'Nah, my girlfriend is having a baby in four weeks, I don't want to play.'“
Gerrard said that Redknapp's remarks had come as “a bit of a surprise” and urged him to disclose the identities of the players in question.
“I'd be interested to find out who those players are,” Gerrard told reporters at England's World Cup training base in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, two days after his side's group-phase elimination was confirmed.
“If Harry is making a comment like that, he should name them and embarrass them. No-one in this group wants to go home.
“If it's the case, it's disgusting. For me, if a player doesn't want to be here, he doesn't deserve to be here at a World Cup.
“'They' didn't want to play for England. Who? Name them. Is it Aaron Lennon? Kyle Walker? Andros Townsend? I don't know who he means. Five years ago? Ten years ago?”
Redknapp spent four years at Spurs, between 2008 and 2012, during which time Lennon, Walker, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Scott Parker, David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King were all involved in the England set-up.
Gerrard said that he could “name one player with an educated guess”, but added that it was “unfair to ask people to look back historically”.
England manager Roy Hodgson, who appeared beside Gerrard during a briefing with newspaper journalists, said that it was important for players of all ages to realise the importance of representing their country.
“It's up to us to produce the right environment and culture right the way down,” he said.
“If they realise if they start turning down under-21s matches because they don't quite fancy it, they'll not get senior appearances.
“We have to make clear to players: if you want to play for England, you commit yourself for England.”
Gerrard, 34, has yet to decide whether to prolong his international career beyond England's final World Cup game against Costa Rica on Tuesday, but he revealed that Hodgson has asked him to continue as player and captain.
“The manager has asked me to stay,” said Gerrard, who narrowly missed out on the Premier League title with Liverpool last season.
“It's a tough moment for myself. In my head I've got a mixture of emotions: frustration, pain.
“The season for Liverpool ended badly for me and the team. I was coming out of that trying to put that to bed, trying to get some positivity back in the World Cup.
“This is exactly what I didn't want to happen, the exact way. But I've faced adversity before, played through it, stayed strong.
“I have to try and grieve, get away with the family and away from international football, and then make a decision. It would be wrong for me to make that decision now.
“The first person who'll know is Roy. I spoke to him this morning and said I'd need at least three weeks to clear my head.” – Sapa-AFP