Green's massive England boost

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries keeper Robert Green remains determined to fulfil his World Cup dream after his hopes were given a massive boost by England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence yesterday.


Canaries keeper Robert Green remains determined to fulfil his World Cup dream after his hopes were given a massive boost by England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence yesterday.

With just two months to go before the big kick-off in Germany, Clemence believes that Green is the man to claim the third goalkeeping jersey, behind Paul Robinson and David James.

Green's World Cup dream has been in danger of being derailed by virtue of the fact that he has plied his trade in the Championship for the past season, but Clemence sees it otherwise.

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“His end-of-season form has been back to his best,” said Clemence, who watched the 26-year-old in action in the 2-1 defeat of Leicester City at Carrow Road just 10 days ago.

The concern for Green's supporters was that Chris Kirkland would overtake him in England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's final reckoning, but those fears were virtually dispelled when the Liverpool goalkeeper, on loan at West Brom, broke his finger and was ruled out for the rest of the season.

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The only other contender standing in Green's way would appear to be the man who he will come face to face with at Hillsborough on Saturday - Scott Carson, currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday from Liverpool.

However, Green has the experience of two years travelling with the England squad and, as Clemence pointed out yesterday, that is a huge advantage.

“At international level, possession is nine-tenths or the law, so Robert Green is in a strong position,” he said.

“But Scott Carson, our under-21 keeper who gained senior squad experience with us in the States last summer, is also doing very well so we'll certainly be keeping an eye on how he does.”

Green, however, is determined to do all he can to secure a seat on the plane to Germany as City's season draws to a close.

On hearing Clemence's comments yesterday, the City No 1 said: “I wouldn't want to take my position for granted. Over the last four games of the season I will do my best to secure my place in the squad.

“If I can do well then I will be in a strong position to claim a place I've had for the last couple of years.”

Green has played just 45 minutes for his country - the second half of a friendly match against Colombia during last summer's tour to the United States - but if he goes to Germany he will become the first Norwich player since Bryan Gunn and Robert Fleck travelled to Italia '90 with Scotland to compete in the World Cup finals.

Clemence said he was delighted with the form of the three likely goalkeeping choices. He was present at White Hart Lane on Saturday to see Tottenham's Robinson - Eriksson's first-choice keeper - in opposition to Manchester City's James.

“Robbo did not have a lot to do, but did make one very good save diving to his right to save from (Albert) Riera, whereas Jamo was considerably busier and made three or four exceptional saves which kept Man City in the game,” he said. “It was great to see the two of them playing so well as we come close to announcing the World Cup squad.”

Eriksson will name his provisional World Cup squad on May 9, and drop three players from the 26-man list when it must be presented to FIFA six days later.

What he will not do, according to Clemence, is gamble by taking half-fit players to Germany.

Arsenal pair Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell, plus Newcastle's Michael Owen, are all currently out of action with their clubs due to injury.

“We have the best squad we have had for many years but of course we do need that squad to be fully fit when we go to Germany,” said Clemence.

“If it is fully fit and the better players in that squad are in top form, and we have the one thing we've not had in the last two tournaments, a little bit of luck, then we have an excellent chance of going a long way.”

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