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Sven - listen to Martin O'Neil - 02/10/2003

Sven - listen to Martin O'Neil
England's answer - without a doubt!
   Michael Ricketts
   Emile Heskey
   Michael Owen
   Football Association

They say football’s a funny game, and one of the few times a Scotsman has a chance to laugh at England is when they continually talk about their problem down the left-hand side. Sven and Tord Grip have continually failed to realise that the best left foot in British football belongs to a Geordie playing for Celtic…and I don’t need to remember my geography lessons at school, to realise Newcastle is part of England.

I just can’t believe that a guy who has consistently done the business for Celtic has continually been overlooked. It astonishes me that players of the calibre of Michael Ricketts are given a chance in a friendly, whilst Alan Thompson hasn’t had a look in. At last there’s been some debate about the likes of Tommo and Chris Sutton being overlooked. No disrespect to Sutton, but Tommo has to be streets in front of him. I’ve been encouraged with the comments made by Sven’s right hand man in the Daily Record, although I’d still urge him to put him in the squad for the Turkish game.

I played with Tommo at Bolton and although it was fair to say he needed maturing, he’s done that and improved greatly as a player. I thought he’d make the international scene when he moved to Bolton from Villa, but to be fair he wasn’t quite playing to his potential. His move to Celtic has been the making of him in professional terms. Don’t give me the argument that the Scottish League is easy, the man did it in the UEFA run and is doing it in the Champions League – at what higher level can he test himself? 

I know he can make the step because I know the player and I know the man. If I were Michael Owen I’d be putting club loyalties to one side and pleading with Sven to give him a chance. Emile Heskey on the left or Tommo – no contest!! Tommo created chance after chance for me and I’m sure he’d do the same for whoever England play up front, he’s the best chance England have of solving a problem that seems to have run on for years. Pick him Sven, or we’ll always be laughing at you.

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