Charlton’s South African striker Shaun Bartlett tonight quit international football in a bid to win a new contract at The Valley.
The forward, who turns 31 this Friday, has been at the centre of a succession of club-versus-country rows and opted for retirement rather than risking another bust-up over the African Nations Cup in the new year.
Bartlett, who won 66 caps and scored an impressive 27 goals for his country, is out of contract at the end of the season and wants to impress his club sufficiently to secure a fresh deal.
“I’m in the last year of my contract and am playing for a new deal,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to the South African authorities and explained my decision. I told them it was time for me to concentrate on my club career.
“They tried to talk me round but I’d already made up my mind.”
Addicks boss Alan Curbishley, who pushed Bartlett to quit the Bafana Bafana, told Sky Sports: “We were in a ridiculous situation where he’d go missing for six weeks over Christmas.
“We said to Shaun it wasn’t on. We pay his wages so asked what his priority was.”
The attacker is one of four Charlton strikers on the sidelines – creating an injury crisis which prompted today’s recall of Mathias Svensson from his loan at Nationwide First Division Derby.
Bartlett has an ankle injury, Carlton Cole a bruised hip, Kevin Lisbie a knee problem and Paolo di Canio hurt his hamstring in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
That left just Jonatan Johansson and Jason Euell as the only fit senior forwards at the club.
Curbishley said: “With so many strikers injured, I felt we needed more options up front.”
Svensson, himself just back from injury, goes straight into the Charlton squad for Wednesday’s Carling Cup clash at Everton.
Meanwhile, former Charlton front man Andy Hunt – who retired in May 2001 – is attempting a comeback.
The 33-year-old, who quit after an unsuccessful battle against post-viral fatigue syndrome, has been training with the Addicks for two weeks and tonight plays for the reserves against Southampton at The Valley.
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney said: “Andy started doing light running a couple of months ago and didn’t have the reaction he had previously.
“He asked if he could have an assessment of his fitness levels, so he’s trained with the first-team squad and made steady progress.
“However, there remains the possibility he could have a setback and so it’s important not to look too far into the future at this stage.”