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Tuesday, 04 July 2006

3358: Tottenham Hotspur: Lennon The

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by : Paul Grech

It’s all doom and gloom at the moment but as England bid farewell to the World Cup they can at least find heart in the number of positives to emerge from Germany.

Owen Hargreaves, for instance, proved that there is a reason why Bayern Munich keep on playing him week in, week out. His performance in the quarter final game against Portugal was nothing short of exceptional but he set a high standard throughout the whole tournament, even when asked to play as right-back instead of Gary Neville.

Similarly, Peter Crouch proved that you should really look further than appearances. Whilst he will never be classified as one of the classiest or deadliest strikers in the game, he showed that he has the talent to hold his own at the highest level. Again, his best game came against Portugal when he was at the end of anything thrown forward by the England defence and always ably managed to keep the ball until he could lay it off to one of the midfielders coming forward.

Yet the star of this England campaign has to be Aaron Lennon. Even the few minutes that he was granted in total were enough to showcase the fantastic talent of this young player who seemed to be the only one capable of delivering a little bit of magic.

Perhaps it was down to the exuberance of youth but whereas the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard had largely subdued tournaments, Lennon played with the same zest that he has shown in the Premiership. None more so than against Portugal when he repeatedly tore their defence apart with his combination of blistering pace and phenomenal control of the ball.

As yet, his crossing ability isn’t in Beckham’s class but there’s plenty of time to allow that aspect of his game to develop. After all, he barely has one full Premiership season behind him. And with his ability to find a way past defenders, he can often get closer to the forwards then the former England captain could.

Beckham’s decision to relinquish his captaincy will undeniably make Steve McLaren’s job easier. Whilst the Real Madrid man was still the side’s captain, he was virtually a guaranteed regular but his move means that the new England boss can make any changes necessary.

This should mean further opportunities for Lennon to continue to progress on the international scene. With more high level experience by the time the next European Championships come along, he should be ready to star as England bid to end their forty-two year old struggle to win a major title.

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