Wes Brown could become one of the best defenders England have ever had according
Wes Brown could become one of the best defenders England have ever had according to club boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Since breaking into the Old Trafford first team four years ago, Brown has been blighted by a series of injuries which even Ferguson feared would wreck his career.
After finally overcoming the succession of problems which followed an entire season on the sidelines with cruciate ligament damage, Brown took his place in the United line-up which faced Zalaegerszeg in the opening match of the current campaign, only to fracture his ankle within five minutes of the opening whistle.
At that stage, Brown must have thought he was cursed. However, with the unstinting support of his manager, the 23-year-old returned three months later and is now starting to show the kind of form which earned him the first of his six England caps as a teenager back in 1999.
"I said it when he was 18, I said it when he was 19 and I will say it again, Wes is definitely capable of becoming one of the best defenders England have ever had," said Ferguson.
"He had a succession of injuries over the past two years and it was a worry. It is bound to get you down after a while.
"When he came back this time, I said it is time he got a break. I knew if that happened what a terrific player he would be and his form since then has been outstanding.
"He likes to tackle but the more games he plays the more he will know when to go in and when not to. He has to learn when to stand off but that will come through experience."
Ironically, it was an injury to current central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand which saw Brown pushed back into the first-team picture at West Ham in November, since when he has sat out just three games as Ferguson has tried to keep his squad fresh for the demands ahead.
Moving from right-back into his favoured role in the heart of United's rearguard, Brown linked first with Mikael Silvestre and latterly with Ferdinand to transform what had been a shaky Red Devils backline into the tightest defence in the Premier League.
His reward was a call into Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad for Wednesday's clash with Australia at Old Trafford, when he will be given the chance to increase his international experience after a poor display in the warm-up draw with Cameroon cost him any chance of a World Cup appearance in the summer.
"Wes is a sensible lad who never seems to get carried away," said Ferguson.
"It is great when you see somebody come through the ranks and keep their feet on the ground like that and he is forging a great partnership with Rio.
"Both have got similar qualities in terms of their tremendous speed.
"They are both about the same age and they both compliment each another really well.
"Rio is a bit more vocal than Wes but Wes knows how to do his job and therefore he is probably letting Rio get on with the shouting and bawling."