King is among the 30-man England squad who are currently undergoing an intensive training camp in Irdning, Austria, ahead of next month's World Cup.

The Tottenham club captain was a surprise choice for Capello's preliminary squad due to the fact he is restricted to playing one game every six days because of a chronic knee injury which has dogged him throughout his career.

Nevertheless, Capello is thought to be a big admirer of the commanding 29- year-old, who was a rock at the heart of Spurs' defence last season.

The Italian's decision to leave out Owen Hargreaves leaves him with few options in the holding midfield role should Barry fail to overcome an ankle injury.

Tottenham coach Ferdinand insists King, who started his career in midfield, would be a perfect replacement for Barry should the Manchester City man miss out.

"I think if Ledley King was playing week in week out he would be a starter for England," Ferdinand said.

"We have always been crying out for a ball-playing centre half and that's what Ledley is. As well as being that, I think what he does offer Capello is the opportunity to play him in front of the back four if needs be.

"If Barry doesn't make it then Ledley can play in that role, without a shadow of a doubt.

"I think Frank Lampard once said after playing with Ledley in midfield that he was the best player he had played alongside in that role apart from Claude Makelele so that speaks volumes about how good he is in that position."

Jermain Defoe is one of five strikers hoping to catch Capello's eye in the next 10 days, which will see England take on Mexico and Japan.

The 27-year-old's form took a worrying dip towards the end of last season, but Ferdinand is convinced Spurs' top scorer will make Capello's final squad.

"It was a bit of concern that he wasn't scoring," Ferdinand continued.

"Capello shouldn't have any fears about taking him though. He's watched him quite a lot this year.

"He came to a lot of Spurs games at the end of the season. He's seen enough of him to know that he is always capable of scoring goals.

"There's certain players that are guaranteed a spot and I'd like to think that Jermain is one of them."

Spurs' successful season has meant six of their players have made Capello's 30-man group, which will be trimmed to a final 23 on June 1.

King, Defoe, Peter Crouch and winger Aaron Lennon look set to make the squad but midfielder Tom Huddlestone and uncapped defender Michael Dawson are far less certain to make the final cut.

Ferdinand, who was an unused squad member during his only World Cup with England in France '98, admits he fears that Dawson and Huddlestone will miss out due to their inexperience.

"My only concern is that you tend to find it is the boys with lesser experience tend to miss out, no matter how good their season has been," said the former Spurs striker.

"If you look at the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson, they haven't been involved in too many squads under Capello and they will find it very difficult to get in the final 23."

::We spoke to Les Ferdinand over a pint of Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of England Rugby, who will be supporting the football boys in South Africa this summer. Get behind the team with a pint of Greene King IPA - the taste of England at