Pompey pair get Wembley distractions, but did they want them?
By Site reporter
Tuesday 11 May 2010 22:28:00
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Two key members of Pompey’s Wembley party have had distractions to their build-up to Saturday – but whether either were of the unwanted variety is open to question.

For David James, confirmation of a place in Fabio Capello’s initial World Cup squad of 30 will have been a welcome boost days before he plays his second FA Cup final in three seasons. But for Avram Grant, speculation he will replace Gianfranco Zola at West Ham must be seen as ill-timed as he plots his tactics for Saturday.


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Jamo, Joe Hart and Robert Green are the only three keepers in Capello’s squad, and he is unlikely to leave any of them at home.

Which one of them starts in the first group game on June 12 appears still to be in the balance but James must regard Saturday’s final as one of few remaining chances to show he is the man for the big occasion.

James has had an injury-hit season and after Wembley he will be able to focus on proving to the England set-up he is fit for action as their No1 in South Africa.

Grant is said to be second favourite only to Croat Slaven Bilic in the running for the job made vancat by West Ham’s axing of Zola.

The Daily Telegraph says there are pros and cons to both men, saying of Grant: ‘The Israeli has undergone an almost complete rehabilitation in recent months, transforming himself from the grey blur who failed to deliver the Champions League to Chelsea to beloved Man of the People at stricken Portsmouth.

‘His achievement in taking Pompey to the FA Cup final in the face of desperate financial problems cannot be overstated and he has developed a lighter touch to his dealings with the media since relocating to the south coast.

‘For all that, Grant's appointment is unlikely to prompt rooftop celebrations down Green Street. West Ham fans are innately suspicious of anything that has once been clad in Chelsea blue and many will remain unconvinced by Grant's ability to take their club to the next level. It is certainly true that, in England at least, Grant has developed an unwanted reputation as a nearly man, although this week's FA Cup final could change that.’

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