Chris Kirkland can regain England spot says Wigan manager Steve Bruce
18 March 2009 01:34
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The 27-year-old former Liverpool keeper has just one full international cap to his credit but Bruce is convinced that he can put his injury problems behind him to win a place in England head coach Fabio Capello's 2010 World Cup campaign.
"Chris Kirkland for me is the best goalkeeper in England without any questions," Bruce said.
"If he didn't have the problem that he's got with his back then he would be England No 1 and I've got no doubts about that whatsoever and that's no disrespect to David James.
"I just think he is an outstanding goalkeeper. Chris Kirkland is right up there with one of the world's best in Peter Schmeichel - and I played alongside him.
"It's just a shame that physically getting on planes and buses he struggles. But he has shown out on the pitch that he's a top-class goalkeeper."
Injuries hampered Kirkland's efforts to establish himself as Liverpool's No1 goalkeeper but he has since silenced many of his doubters following his move to Wigan three years ago and has chalked up 77 appearances for the JJB Stadium club.
His form this season has helped Wigan consolidate their Premier League status and put European football within the club's sights.
"Despite everything, I don't think that Chris' injury problems have ruined his England chances," added Bruce, the former Manchester United skipper.
"We've got him on a training regime that's touch-wood, I shouldn't talk about it, will help see him through. We've altered the way he wanted to train. If you said to him train at 8am, 10am, noon and 4pm he'd do it.
"He wants to be that way. We've had to restrict him and get him to do other stuff. He's got a personal conditioner and he goes with him to keep him on the pitch.
"If he can keep himself right and keep playing regularly he's got every chance of winning more England caps. For me I'm English and I would love to see him keeping goal for England that's for sure because he deserves to in my opinion."
Capello's England resume their World Cup qualifying campaign a week this Saturday when Slovakia head to Wembley with Ukraine heading to London the following Wednesday.