Tony Cottee: Capello made right decision by going Green
West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green should be England's No1 for the 2010 World Cup, says Advertiser columnist Tony Cottee
There were times when it looked like it would never happen, so it was a real pleasure to see Rob Green make his full England debut against Kazakhstan this week.
As far as I'm concerned, it's long overdue. I'm not David James' biggest fan and I don't believe he's the right man for England - he's too old and in a high-pressure situation, he's always liable to drop a clanger.
We need a goalkeeper to come in and challenge for the England No1 jersey and it's only right that Rob has been given a crack at winning the job.
He didn't have too much to do after the first minute in Kazakhstan, but he looked calm and assured and recording a clean sheet will be a real boost.
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Although I feel that Rob has been wrongly overlooked for the last couple of years, it now looks as though he's got his chance at just the right time.
The World Cup finals are only 12 months away and before last weekend, Rob was no certainty to go to South Africa, with only a couple of caps to his name.
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Now it looks as though he's got the inside track to win a place in the final squad and in my view he's earned the right to be in there and competing for a place in the starting line-up.
Unfortunately it looks as though David James is firmly established as Fabio Capello's No1, but as we've seen with him pulling out of the two matches this week, at 39 years of age, there's always the chance he could suffer an injury next season.
And if that happens, Rob must be in with a shout of replacing him after getting the nod this week.
Matthew Upson was also back in the England team this week and he looks a certainty to be in the World Cup squad after emerging as Capello's first-choice replacement at centre-half.
Carlton Cole is also pushing for a place after being called-up to the squad this week and I suppose there might be an opportunity for Scott Parker if he comes back strong next season.
But the one other West Ham player who I think has a real chance to go to the World Cup is Dean Ashton.
If Deano can get his fitness back over the summer, in my view he would be one of the first names on Capello's list of forwards. He offers something different and unlike Emile Heskey, he's a natural goalscorer.
Let's hope that Dean can come back and fire his way into the reckoning alongside Rob Green and Matthew Upson - because we all know how important it is to have three West Ham boys in the squad.
The club are also well represented England squad for the European Under-21 Championship, with both James Tomkins and Mark Noble in the final 23-man selection.
In fact, West Ham could've had three players in there, with Freddie Sears and Junior Stanislas unlucky to miss out.
But I'm pleased that Stuart Pearce has selected his strongest possible squad and has included full internationals such as Theo Walcott and Micah Richards.
I know some Premier League managers have complained about their young players facing burn-out, but there's no point in entering these competitions if we don't field out best side and it's important that young players get used to the idea of going away with England and winning tournaments.
For someone like Tomkins, who will still be eligible for the Under-21s next year, the experience will be invaluable and if he can get into the starting line-up, I think he also has an outside chance of challenging for a place in the senior World Cup squad.
There's a lot of competition - with Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King at Spurs, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka at Everton, we've got so many good centre-halves in this country.
But James has proved that he's an excellent prospect and if he carries on playing like he did at the end of this season, there's always a chance that injuries could thrust him into contention.
Playing alongside someone as experienced as Matthew Upson will certainly be a big help. I remember when I broke into the first-team as a young player, the senior strikers at the club, like Paul Goddard really helped me develop my game.
The real challenge for James will be keeping his place in the West Ham team next year, when we'll have James Collins and Danny Gabbidon back fit.
But I'm confident he can do that. He's such a mature young lad and he's played so well over the last few weeks of the season that he was almost the first name on the West Ham teamsheet.
Four years ago, Theo Walcott came from nowhere to make it into the World Cup squad and I can certainly see James becoming a dark horse for England's 2010 selection.
Tony Cottee was talking to Jonathan Clegg.