Friday 19 January 2018

Allardyce refuses to rule out shock return for Terry

John Terry Picture: Reuters
John Terry Picture: Reuters

Jason Burt

Sam Allardyce has opened the door to a shock England recall for former captain John Terry while suggesting he is set to build his defence around John Stones.

In a wide-ranging briefing to mark his first month as England manager, Allardyce also said it was "critical" that out-of-favour Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart played first-team football again and appears set to leave out striker Marcus Rashford and send him to play for the U-21s.

Allardyce's remarks on Terry will spark the most debate even if it still appears highly unlikely the 35-year-old will play for his country again after his fallout with the national set-up in 2012.

Asked directly whether Terry could return to the England squad, four years after he retired from international football, Allardyce said: "Maybe so. I think it depends on what John said. Maybe if I get the opportunity, I might have to give him a ring. But until I come to that selection or that process, we'll wait and see."

Allardyce will meet his coaching staff this week to select the England squad, to be announced on Sunday, ahead of the first World Cup qualifier away to Slovakia the following Sunday.

Terry retired because he felt his position was untenable after the FA pursued charges even though he was acquitted in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Allardyce was effusive on Stones, dismissing the suggestion that the 22-year-old has "potential".

"See there's that word, we don't want potential, do we?" Allardyce said. "Potential is something that's going to be great in the future. I want it right now and I think he's got a great chance of becoming great right now with working with Manchester City - you don't realise he (manager Pep Guardiola) does focus quite a lot on defending."

Allardyce said that Gerard Pique was "a little similar at Manchester United" to Stones "until he went to Barcelona, then he became a good defender as well as a great attribute in possession. So he had both".

Allardyce said he hoped another young City player, Raheem Sterling, has hopefully got over the "glitch" of last season, when the winger appeared affected by his £49m move to City and endured a miserable Euros.

"So if he's through that period and his talent begins to blossom again. . . because he's not at the peak of his career yet. He's 21," Allardyce said. "He's a terrific talent, like many of the players in England. We've just got to enhance the talent, play as a team and win."

The scenario for Hart is more gloomy although Allardyce said he would pick the goalkeeper for his first squad.

With City poised to sign Claudio Bravo from Barcelona and with Hart having been told he can leave, the 29-year-old needs to quickly find a new club. Everton are expected to take him on loan.

Asked whether Hart needed to play, Allardyce said: "Absolutely, eventually, in the end it is critical- if it's a short period of time, maybe not. If it goes for a longer period of time then I think it's difficult then to select them. So it is a concern."

It is unclear whether Stoke City keeper Jack Butland will be available - Southampton's Fraser Forster is favourite to start against Slovakia - with Allardyce adding: "Well, he's not fit is he (Butland)? It's a difficult decision. It's one I could have done without. "

Allardyce was clear with his plan to omit Rashford, who made such an extraordinary breakthrough in the second half of last season that he made the squad for Euro 2016.

The 18-year-old striker has made just one appearance so far this season for Manchester United - as a substitute in the Community Shield - and Allardyce said of him: "Rashford is not playing now. It makes it harder for me to select him, as exciting as he was last year and how he burst on the scene.

"At such a young age, do I say: 'Go play in the U-21s. Get used to international football there, play regularly there and it will help you eventually, hopefully break into the Manchester United team and then break into the England senior team'."

Allardyce will name his captain when the squad meet up. He hailed the incumbent, Wayne Rooney, as a "fantastic, fantastic captain" but refused to say whether the 30-year-old would continue in the role.

Allardyce, however, has decided who will lead the team.

He also contributed to the debate over Rooney's best position, suggesting his future lies where he plays at present for United, as a 'No 10' behind the main striker.

"His best position is where he's being played now," said Allardyce. "He's started well, the team has started well, so that breeds confidence into any Man United player who is selected to come with us." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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