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England boss Fabio Capello believes Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes would have lit up World Cup 2010 had he come out of international retirement.
According to the Sunday Mirror, in what seems to be a desperate search for explainations for England's disastrous showing in South Africa, Capello is believed to have told close friends that the absence of the United veteran was a massive blow to his tactical strategy.
It is reported that the 35-year-old was approached by Capello in the countdown to the tournament, prior to the announcement of the preliminary 30-man squad for the training camp in Austria.
Initially rumours began that the Red Devils playmaker, who quit international football back in 2004, would follow in the footsteps of Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and return to the Three Lions fold.
However, despite assurances that Scholes may even have been guaranteed a place in the final 23-man squad, Scholes decided against reigniting his international career.
A highly-placed source close to Capello said: “Fabio [Capello] was desperately disappointed that he couldn’t coax [Paul] Scholes out of retirement.
“He felt his presence would have given him other options, particularly with concerns over the fitness of Manchester City’s Gareth Barry.”
In the absence of Scholes, Capello decided to stick with a rigid 4-4-2 formation but later complained that England's poor showing was down to player fatigue.
Ironically, Scholes later insisted he may have reconsidered his position and answered the call from the Italian chief if he had been given more time to mull it over.
On retiring from international duty six years ago, Scholes claimed he wanted to concentrate on his career at Old Trafford, as well as spend more time with his family.
Yet rumours later surfaced that he had been disillusioned with former manager Sven Goran-Eriksson after being played out of position for his country on a regular basis.
“Despite his age he is extremely comfortable on the ball, very versatile and has a wealth of experience behind him," added the source.
“His inclusion would have allowed Capello to change his system, taking into consideration the physical condition of the players at his disposal.”
Having staggered through the Group stage with only one victory, England were then accused of being totally out-run in midfield by Germany in their 4-1 defeat in the last-16 clash.
Capello felt that with Scholes's presence and influence he would have added some much needed bite in the England engine room, something which would not have allowed the Germans to dictate play and eliminate England from the tournament.