McLeish - Johnson for England
Boss offers highest praise for centre-half
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: November 28, 2010 2:41pm
Johnson: Fine form
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes late bloomer Roger Johnson has done enough to be considered for an international call-up.
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The 27-year-old has formed a formidable centre-half partnership with Scott Dann over the past 12 months as Birmingham look to cement a status as Premier League mainstays.
Dann, 23, has also excelled alongside the more experienced Johnson, whom McLeish believes is ready for a place in Fabio Capello's England squad.
"Scott is younger and will be under the spotlight for the next couple of years," said the Scot, whose defence were instrumental in City's 1-1 draw at Fulham on Saturday.
"[But] Roger has played down the divisions for a few years and is now 27, and he doesn't want it to pass him by.
"He is desperate to play for England and when you look at some of the other players who have been touted, I think Roger is definitely capable of being named in that bunch of players and easily capable of playing.
"Even if Fabio Capello gives him just one he will be able to say he played for England and you could never take that away from him."
The Blues' sturdy defence went some way to ensuring a top-half finish upon their return to the Premier League last season, but McLeish appreciates not all is down to his centre backs.
Veteran Stephen Carr has enjoyed a new lease of life under his Scottish manager, who convinced him to come out of a short retirement, and McLeish views the Irishman as a club role model.
"He wants to train when the players have got a day off," said McLeish of Carr.
"He is at that stage where he probably feels that if he slows down in terms of his input to training, it will probably finish him or slow him down on the pitch.
"His play has been brilliant. He has been outstanding getting up and down the line. He is a great example to anyone. He likes to play football.
"He is that type of character who inspires other people. We have got a lot of players of the same ilk."