Pallister: Neville a better defender than Johnson

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister feels Gary Neville would still be England's first choice right-back ahead of Liverpool's Glen Johnson, had he played more football over the past season.

Pallister, 44, who played with Neville in a highly successful period at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson in the mid-nineties, believes the Manchester United captain would have made Fabio Capello's squad had he steered clear of injuries.

Speaking exclusively to, he said: "Gary's missed so much football this season that it's not a great surprise he didn't make it. He got himself back into the reckoning, got a sniff but I think ultimately Capello has decided that Gary's not quite up to speed for the World Cup.”

Neville played only 17 Premier League matches for the Old Trafford side last season, although Johnson himself missed three months of Liverpool’s campaign with medial knee ligament damage, having started the season very brightly at Anfield.

The injury to the former Chelsea right-back was just one of a string of cruel blows to Rafael Benitez amd his side in what was a very difficult season for Liverpool.

FULL INTERVIEW: Gary Pallister

Pallister, who himself picked up 22 England caps between 1988 and 1996 and won four Premier League titles during his time with Manchester United, points to the professionalism shown by Neville and his defensive abilities as the reason the Red Devils veteran still had a shout at being at the World Cup.

"He's tough, Gary, he wouldn't have let anybody down. He's professional enough to know what he's capable of and he's probably still stronger than Glen Johnson defensively," he said.

The former Middlesbrough man conceded that Johnson, who arrived at Anfield from Portsmouth last summer, is more of a threat going forward than his Manchester United counterpart, but also stated that a defender’s primary task should be to defend.

"Glen will offer more going forward, but he's a concern for me as he's a right-back who's still better suited to attacking. Defenders should defend first and foremost and defending should be their lifeblood, but that's not the case with Glen and I'm sure the centre-backs would prefer if it was." will be bringing you live text commentary of every match of this summer's World Cup, including England v USA, starting 7pm BST, Saturday June 12.

We caught up with Gary Pallister at an Xbox LIVE Game with Fame, where he played 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa against members of the Xbox LIVE community to celebrate the launch of the game and support the charity 1Goal

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