Keep the faith, Greeno
Chris Woods has one piece of sound advice for Norwich City goalkeeper Robert Green as he prepares for his World Cup adventure with England: “Train for every game as if you are first choice.
Chris Woods has one piece of sound advice for Norwich City goalkeeper Robert Green as he prepares for his World Cup adventure with England: “Train for every game as if you are first choice.”
The Everton goalkeeping coach was still with the Canaries when he was picked for Bobby Robson's squad for the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
But Woods and Manchester United's Gary Bailey were given no chance to shine with veteran 'keeper Peter Shilton playing in all five matches, England's campaign ending with their controversial 2-1 quarter-final defeat by Argentina in Mexico City.
Green, with just one cap, is aware he may face the same situation with Paul Robinson and David James likely to be higher up the pecking order, but insists he will be ready if needed - a positive attitude Woods endorses.
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He said: “It's obviously a great honour to be part of the England squad playing in the World Cup. But if you aren't playing, it doesn't mean quite as much to you. It is an honour to be there and I am sure Robert will view it as a great experience and something he can take in and learn from.
“I think the hard thing is you've just got to train as if you are playing and give yourself every opportunity if it comes along. It is certainly different sitting on the bench for the England team from being on the bench for a club team.”
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Woods, 46, was in a similar position to Green when his call came from Robson 20 years ago this month. He, too, had just completed a full season in the second tier of English football after relegation with City - although on this occasion the Canaries had just won the old Division Two championship and were heading back to the top flight. The drop in status for 12 months didn't affect his selection.
Said Woods: “To be quite honest, I expected Robert to be picked. He's been in the squad most of the season so he would have hoped to be in, even though people were probably pushing Scott Carson's name forward.
“I've seen a fair bit of Robert and he's obviously a top-class goalkeeper. The fact that he has played a season in the Premiership will have helped. I think the main thing is that he's got to keep the same level of consistency all the time.”
Playing in the Championship could, however, be a concern in the long term.
Woods, capped 43 times by England, said: “I would say, ideally, he needs to play at the highest level but I don't want to say too much because that's a matter for Norwich.
“I just think as long as he produces the sort of form he is capable of, it won't be a massive problem, but it might be if he is playing at that level season after season.
“I think even when I was in the England squad a lot of people thought that playing for a so-called unfashionable club would be a drawback but that wasn't the case.”
Woods returned from Mexico and immediately joined the English exodus to Graeme Souness' new-look Glasgow Rangers for £600,000, then a British record fee for a goalkeeper, but he said the move was not down to a higher profile through his World Cup involvement.
“Not really, my contract was up at Norwich. I would have been happy to stay, but it didn't work out like that and I had the opportunity to go to Rangers.”
Woods went to three more major tournaments with England - Euro '88 in Germany, the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Euro '92 in Sweden, where he played in all three matches as Graham Taylor's first choice 'keeper.