Wenger - Almunia for England
Arsenal manager backs Spaniard for England call-up
By James Dall. Last Updated: December 27, 2007 12:23pm
Almunia: England call-up?
Arsene Wenger has advised new England boss Fabio Capello to call on goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.
The Arsenal shot-stopper has previously outlined his keenness to represent England, and he has now received the backing of Arsenal manager Wenger.
The Spaniard will be eligible to play for England through residency rules next year, and his boss' support follows an excellent penalty save in Saturday's north London derby success.
Almunia, who joined The Gunners from Celta Vigo in 2004, has made 22 appearances so far this season after some impressive displays which have forced Jens Lehmann to occupy the substitutes' bench.
And with the England No.1 jersey currently up for grabs, Wenger believes Capello should take advantage of Almunia's emergence as a reliable keeper.
"I could only advise you to take advantage of it and call him up for the England squad," he said in The Sun.
"Almunia came here without a CV so he had to make a name with his performances. It was not easy because he had to get experience at a big club.
"I knew he was good but how could he be Arsenal's keeper? Only by playing. He had never played for a big club before and made some mistakes, but he has gained confidence and calmness. He is a good keeper.
"Everyone makes mistakes. (Manchester United goalkeeper) Van der Sar makes mistakes.
"But it was more difficult for Almunia because he was already under pressure from an outstanding goalkeeper (Lehmann) behind him.
"That was a tough test. If you play bad games, you are under pressure immediately."