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Johnson could have been an England hero

15 Jun 2010 10:17:36

| Submit Comments| Comments (31)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapAdam JohnsonAdam Johnson spent Saturday night rubbing shoulders with TV star Simon Cowell. But the young City star could have been the man to inject England with the X Factor as they toiled to a 1-1 draw with the USA. Blue wing legends Peter Barnes and Dennis Tueart both feel that Fabio Capello may have missed a trick when he left Johnson standing on the tarmac as the England plane nosed into the sky, heading for South Africa. When under-the-weather City target James Milner was given a torrid time for half an hour by American right back Steve Cherundolo, Capello was bold enough to make a quick switch. Capello went to the England cupboard, and it was bare of left-sided players ? a curse which has plagued the national team since Chris Waddle hung up his mullet. With Joe Cole as the only player on the bench with any pedigree as an attacking left-sided midfielder, the Italian manager plumped instead for the pace and work rate of Shaun Wright-Phillips. The diminutive City man made a fist of it, but he is a fish out of water on the left, other than for the occasional flank-swap during a game. Johnson was cut by Capello after making the provisional 30-man squad, and found himself rubbing shoulders with Cowell, pop beauty Katy Perry, and World Cup legend Gordon Banks on James Corden?s post-match show on ITV. Johnson thrust himself into the England reckoning by claiming a regular place in the City side following his £7m move from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window ? ironically displacing Wright-Phillips from the right-wing berth. Capello was attracted by the fact that he is naturally left-sided, although he has shone on the right for City, but also offers more subtlety than the direct pace of Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott. In the end, it was not enough for the 22-year-old Mackem ? but both Tueart and Barnes are backing him to have claimed a regular place by the time the 2012 European Championships comes around. ?I can?t recall the last time England had a left-footed attacking player in the squad,? says Tueart, who himself made a successful career as an ?inverted? winger for City and England. ?I thought Adam might have got a look in. I can see where Capello is coming from, in that he asked himself how many inexperienced players he can take to a World Cup finals. Winger decisions ?Aaron Lennon has been in the squad for a while, but Theo Walcott and Adam are still pretty raw, while you know what you will get with Shaun. ?The thing with Adam is that he offers something different, as well as being able to play left or right. ?I could have seen him being thrown on for the last 20 minutes, when the game opens up, going past a full back and getting in a dangerous cross. And games at that level are all about such minutiae. ?Next season I feel Adam will come into his own. He will get stronger, and there is no question to me that he could end up as a regular on the left for both City and England. ?He switched to the right for City partly because Craig Bellamy was in possession on the left and having a good season ? but Craig is coming towards the end of his career.? Tueart himself could play down either flank, and he and Barnes were interchangeable. ?I began as a centre forward but I was tiny and Newcastle Boys switched me to the left wing because they had a bigger lad called Paddy Lowery to play in the middle,? said Tueart. ?I was right-footed but they already had a right winger as well, so I was shoved out on the left as a 15-year-old. I developed the ability of playing with my right foot on the left wing, and by the time I joined City I had improved a lot with my left foot as well.? City?s two-winged approach won them their last major trophy, Tueart and Barnes scoring the goals in the League Cup final victory over Newcastle in 1976. And the other hero of that Wembley occasion also feels Johnson is the man for England?s future. ?Adam will be an automatic choice for England one day, I feel,? said Barnes, who won 22 caps for his country. ?I feel Fabio made a mistake in not taking the lad, but I also feel he should have put Joe Cole on against the Americans. ?He is not a winger, but he has played well for England on that left-hand side ? and he is more technical than the rest of the England wide men. ?Shaun came on and perhaps was trying too hard, and things can go wrong when that happens. ?But I would have taken Adam to South Africa. A young lad like that has no worries ? I played for England at 20. ?If he starts next season well, he should walk into that England team.? What do you think? Have your say.


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