Redknapp backs Huddlestone to eventually fill England’s midfield void

PUBLISHED: 20:43 02 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:03 03 September 2010

AS international football takes centre stage again and England return to action, two issues have come to the fore: Should Paul Scholes return for his country? And should the nation adopt the Spaniard Mikel Arteta?

Both issues revolve around the same problem – the country’s search for a midfield playmaker, a master of possession who can bring Fabio Capello’s Three Lions closer to the reigning world and European champions, Spain.

In Arteta’s case, England’s need for a more Spanish approach is probably being taken too literally, while Scholes shows little sign of a U-turn. The fact that he won’t be involved in England’s first two qualifiers suggests that he never will.

The search goes on and the debates continue in media outlets and pubs across the country, incessantly.

However, these issues are very relevant to Tottenham, and a certain 23-year-old central midfielder whose rapid development has coincided with Spurs’ first ever appearance in the Champions League – Tom Huddlestone.

“Tom’s got the ability to be anything he wants to be. He’s a fantastic footballer,” says his manager Harry Redknapp.

“He’s just as comfortable on his left foot and right foot, he’s a fantastic passer of the ball and he’s always got control of the game. He always looks comfortable on the ball.

“He’s a top player and I think he’s got a great future. I can see him becoming an England player for a good few years to come if he keeps progressing as he has done in the last year or so.”

That currently looks unlikely because, despite being included in Capello’s provisional 30-man World Cup unit, Huddlestone has been omitted from the last two England squads.

Capello’s preference for Michael Carrick in the latest line-up is understandable ahead of the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers, given the ex-Spurs midfielder’s greater experience.

However, Huddlestone was also overlooked when the England boss named his youthful 23-man squad for the recent friendly with Hungary, a taste of the future which included 18-year-old Jack Wilshere.

“That was a surprise, I would have thought he would have made that squad,” said Redknapp.

“I think he probably wanted to bring a few different people in. He’d had Tom in the squad before the World Cup.

“He hadn’t had much of a look-in but I think he will, he’ll force his way in eventually. He’d certainly be in my England squad but I don’t pick the team. Last year he played nearly every game for Tottenham.

“I think his confidence is high now. He wants the ball, he feels confident and he feels ‘I’m here, I deserve to be here’. Confidence is key.

“I think Tom could certainly play with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. I would never consider leaving Lampard and Gerrard out, they’re fantastic, but Tom could play with them.

“I think he could be the playmaker, which we haven’t really got – somebody to get control of the game. Tom could sit in that central position and really make us play by getting on the ball and passing the ball, keeping us in possession and also being able to hit those killer passes. He’d be ideal.”

The thoughts of the Tottenham manager have also been echoed by his son Jamie, another former Spurs midfielder, who is convinced that Huddlestone can give England the Spanish control that they are currently lacking.

“We’ve all been going crazy about the midfield play of Paul Scholes and rightly so, but Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone can do all of that, too,” said Redknapp junior in his newspaper column.

“He’s the English Xabi Alonso, who will pass a team to death with his daisy cutters, those drilled passes that skip off the grass when he pings the ball so effortlessly with either foot.

“He doesn’t just launch the ball. Short and long, his passing has never been questioned, but he is now more dynamic with his play.

“He didn’t go to the World Cup in South Africa, he was left out for the last squad, but I sat five or six seats away from Fabio Capello on Wednesday night [against Young Boys] and I can’t believe he didn’t see an England player in Huddlestone.

“He is an international quality passer of the ball, who needs international experience to continue his progress.”

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