Tony Cottee: I feel great sympathy for Green

After what happened on Saturday when England lost to Ukraine you can t help but feel complete sympathy for Robert Green,"" says Tony Cottee

After what happened on Saturday when England lost to Ukraine you can't help but feel complete sympathy for Robert Green.

I watched the game and was so pleased to see so many Hammers and ex-West Ham players in the line-up and was gutted to see the mistake from Rio Ferdinand which forced Green from his goal.

As soon as Rio let the ball bounce over his head he was in trouble and Green had no choice but to come out and try to get the ball. And when he did foul the player, he gave the referee no option but to send him off.

Rob found it hard to get into the squad in the first place and had to be patient before being given the opportunity to get a run of games in goal and you have to wonder about his chances of getting the jersey back.

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David James made two very good saves in the game and you would think he has probably done enough for now to hold onto the England goalkeepers jersey for now and unless he makes a high-profile mistake Rob might have to wait.

It is a massive shame, because he has deserved his chance. He has worked hard and his club form has been so consistent, so you just have to feel sorry for him.

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It throws open the "Who is England's No1" debate once again and there are a lot of good goalkeepers out there. I am a big fan of Chris Kirkland and players such as Paul Robinson, Scott Carson and Joe Hart are good goalkeepers. People say we don't have enough quality goalkeepers, but we have good stoppers, we just don't have an outstanding No1 like we did when we had Peter Shilton, David Seaman or Ray Clemence.

That works to Green's advantage, and what also helps is that no one has really staked a claim to that No1 jersey since David Seaman retired . You hope with some more excellent performances for the Hammers, Green will get another chance.

All the top, top players in the game are given a good opportunity to get a run of games and I believe that is the key in international football.

I know from my own experience that you need a consistent run of games to get used to international level. I had Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley ahead of me in the pecking order and it meant I could not get the run I needed. It is a completely different style of football to that found in the Premier League and it is hard to get used to.

Rob had just played the last four or five matches and was beginning to find his feet. I was only given three or four games to impress, before I did not play again.

There are only three friendlies before the first game in South Africa and you have to wonder if Rob will actually get another chance in goal for England. It would be great if he could be given an opportunity in at least one of those games but you just don't know and only Capello knows who he will go with in that opening group match this summer.

It was fantastic to read that Zavon Hines played so well and scored two goals for the under-21s against Macedonia on Friday.

There was a lot of talk that maybe he would play for Jamaica, but I am delighted he played on Friday.

You don't want top talent playing for other countries, but it does work both ways and players have gone to play for other nations in the past when given the choice, it is just part of the game.

I am very impressed with Zavon. He was not on my radar until after pre-season and it was that game against Liverpool that really made me take notice.

He had an outstanding match against a very good Liverpool back-line and made a real impact.

What has impressed me is his consistency over the matches he has played. The lad is only young and he obviously won't play all the games and he was even left out of the game against Manchester City a week after the Liverpool game, but I believe he can only get better.

It is a catch-22 situation, because you want to play him to gain experience, but you don't want to over-burden or over-work young players because you could burn them out, which would obviously do harm.

He has been our best player over the last five games and getting goals like he has done must have really boosted his confidence and that can only be great news for West Ham.

It will be interesting to see how Gianfranco Zola handles his progression, but he is such an exciting prospect for the club and I expect him to be a star for West Ham and maybe even England as well.

He certainly has a bright future.

Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner

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