Fortune must favour England

Date published: 08 June 2010

Luck important to hopes of lifting world cup - Scholes

PAUL SCHOLES believes England can win the World Cup at Soccer City, Johannesburg on July 11 — if they get the rub of the green.

The Manchester United star and life-long Athletic fan could have been sporting the Three Lions himself of course.

In an exclusive interview with the Oldham Evening Chronicle, Scholes (35) revealed he would probably have joined the squad if Fabio Capello hadn’t waited until May to ask him.

But he will be keeping a close eye on all the action in South Africa over the next four weeks and the midfield maestro thinks England have as good a chance as anyone.

He said: “They (England) can definitely win the tournament if things go their way.

“I think they need to keep everyone fit for a start. The squad is full of very good players but to go over there and actually win the World Cup, it helps if you’ve got everyone in good shape.

“They haven’t had much luck in the build-up to the first game, so hopefully there won’t be anymore knocks.

“Also you need some luck on your side because it’s such a hard competition.

“But it’s a good set of players with a lot of caps and experience between them, so hopefully they can do the job.

“I think it will be quite an open World Cup, there are a number of teams who can probably go all the way, and England are one of them.

“There’s no shortage of talent in the team.”

Scholes retired from international football in 2004 to prolong his career at Old Trafford and spend more time with his family.

With his criteria for glory in South Africa in mind, the national side will have to avoid the kind of bad luck that led to skipper Rio Ferdinand’s involvement.

He suffered knee ligament damage in a freak training ground incident just 24 hours after arriving in the country, and has been told by doctors he won’t play football for around six weeks.

The United defender is staying on in South Africa with the team to cheer them on against United States on Saturday, after which he is likely to fly back to Manchester.

Scholes, who has been relatively injury-free throughout a glittering career which has seen him make more than 600 appearances, was full of sympathy for his club colleague.

“It’s obviously gutting for Rio, not just because he was the captain but because the injury occurred so close to the start of the World Cup. He is a big miss.”

David Beckham was also ruled out of the competition after damaging his Achilles tendon during AC Milan’s 1-0 win over Chievo at the San Siro in March.

Former captain Beckham is to stay with the England party until their participation in the tournament ends, although he hasn’t been given a coaching role by Capello despite his presence on the training ground.

England’s group ‘C’ campaign gets under way in Rustenburg on Saturday night when they battle it out with US.

They travel to Cape Town on Friday, June 18 to take on Algeria, before the final group game against Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, June 23.

Scholes added: “I hope the lads do it. I will be supporting them and watching the games on television like everyone else.”