Arteta keen for England to clarify intentions
Mikel Arteta has urged Fabio Capello and the English FA to make a clear statement of their intentions over the possibility of his selection for England, admitting he would consider such an approach "very seriously".
The Everton midfielder, born and raised in Spain's Basque region, has emerged as a candidate for an England call-up should he choose to apply for British citizenship.
Arteta's failure to win international honours with Spain has opened the door to a possible switch of allegiances because he has been a resident in England for five years, since his arrival at Goodison Park in 2005.
Although Capello and the FA have spoken to the 28-year-old, Arteta insists he has yet to be given a direct indication as to whether he would be offered a place in the England squad.
Arteta said: "No one has contacted me about it and I said really clearly last week my thoughts about it. If that opportunity comes I will consider it very seriously. But that's all I can say. I don't think it's me that has to make the decision.
"They (the English FA) have to think about the situation, they have to propose something, and then we can talk about it. I don't think it's me who has to say anything because it's not my job, but if Capello and the FA say it's all right, then I'll say what I think."
Despite winning 12 caps for Spain U-21s, Arteta remains eligible to play for England, having never been capped at senior level by the world and European champions. The prospect of Arteta playing for England has proved a controversial issue, with observers fearing such a selection would prove damaging for the reputation of English football.
But Everton manager David Moyes admits he would not be surprised if Arteta chose to play for England. "If Fabio Capello or the FA asked Mikel, then he would have a big decision to make," he said. "Mikel could arguably play in a European Championship or World Cup for England, so if he was given the opportunity I think he'd be tempted by it."
Of more immediate concern to Capello is the well-being of Arteta's Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka, who is described as "touch and go" to be fit for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria.
With John Terry and Rio Ferdinand already injured, and Wes Brown and Jamie Carragher having retired from international football, the Italian is short of options in central defence if Jagielka fails to recover from a badly swollen ankle.
The 28-year-old will sit out training today, having reported along with the rest of the squad for duty at the team hotel yesterday afternoon, and the England management are hoping that he will be able to take part in tomorrow's sessions.
Jagielka was injured in his club's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday and later Everton manager David Moyes said the defender's ankle was "badly swollen". If Jagielka fails to make it, then it will be a severe blow for Capello who has pencilled the player in as a starter in central defence -- probably alongside Tottenham's Michael Dawson -- for the Wembley encounter, which he knows England have to win to relieve some of the pressure following their World Cup debacle.
Capello's other options in central defence, having decided against selecting Ledley King who has his own continuing injury problems, are Matthew Upson -- who has been recalled despite his poor showing in South Africa and is now the most experienced centre-half in the squad with 21 caps -- Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott.
If Jagielka has to withdraw, Capello may turn to Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross or one of the Birmingham defenders, Scott Dann or Roger Johnson. (© Daily Telegraph, London)