England defender Wayne Bridge was shown widespread support from his Manchester City team-mates on Sunday amid a media storm over reports that England captain John Terry had an affair with his former girlfriend.
City manager Roberto Mancini – whose side had just beaten Portsmouth 2-0 – said after the match that some of the players wore shirts bearing the words “Team Bridge”.
“The players are very close to Wayne,” said Mancini.
“He is a fantastic player and a good guy. It was a nice gesture.”
While Bridge is out injured, Terry is weathering a media storm following reports that he cheated on his wife Toni with the former girlfriend of Bridge, French lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel.
Terry’s captaincy of England, only months from the start of the World Cup, is now reportedly under threat, although reports suggest Football Association chiefs are set to leave any final decision to England coach Fabio Capello.
Whether such a show of support for Bridge, considered England’s second-choice left-back, influences any decision by Capello regarding the England captaincy would be hard to determine.
But Capello, a strict disciplinarian, is mindful of the effect the scandal could have on dressing room unity. One of the players to have shown support for Bridge was Gareth Barry, a certainty to make Capello’s squad for South Africa.
In a statement released on Saturday, Bridge – who while at Chelsea was a neighbour and close friend of Terry’s – said he would not make any comment about Terry’s relationship with Perroncel and was interested only in the welfare of their three-year-old son.
However, Bridge – who ironically spent a lot of time last summer trying to covince Terry to quit Chelsea for City – is said to be so upset by the scandal that he has considered quitting the England team.