Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn is hopeful that his successor be
Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn is hopeful that his successor between the sticks at Carrow Road - Robert Green- will feature in the next England squad.
Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn is hopeful that his successor between the sticks at Carrow Road - Robert Green, will feature in the next England squad.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men play Australia at Upton Park on February 12 as England begin what is a crucial week in their Euro 2004 qualifying campaign, with the crunch qualifier against Turkey not far away.
Liverpool's Chris Kirkland was widely tipped as the man to succeed the current England stopper David Seaman in the Swede's long-term plans.
However, Kirkland tore his posterior cruciate knee ligament during the Reds' FA Cup fourth-round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday which has put the young 'keeper out for the rest of the season.
Opportunity knocks loud and clear, then, for Green to step into the breach and fight Leeds' Paul Robinson for the title of best young English keeper in the country.
"I was on 'Over The Bar' with Kevin Piper the other Sunday and there was a bookie on there offering odds of 20-1 on Robert Green playing for England in the next five years - I think that's easy money," said Gunn, perfectly placed to see Green's claim to the England No 1 shirt after his long and illustrious reign as Norwich's goalie.
"I've watched him over the last two seasons since he came in for Andy Marshall and he's just gone from strength to strength.
"He's definitely got all the qualities you need to be a top goalkeeper. Should he be in the England squad? I think he should be and, hopefully, he will be."
Gunn is far from alone in spotting a fast-rising talent. England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence has already paid numerous visits to Carrow Road to check on the 23-year-old and was again in the stands at Vicarage Road ten days ago watching Green impress again against Watford.
Clemence made his admiration public over New Year as he used a national newspaper article to pinpoint the three young keepers he felt had a bright international future ahead of them.
"We have good keepers around 30 like David James and have fine young lads coming through like Kirkland and Robinson and Robert Green at Norwich but no one in between," said Clemence.
Gunn firmly believes that a change of guard is afoot and that Green is ideally placed to benefit.
"For a long while you had David Seaman, Nigel Martyn and David James one-two-three in the England set-up. Now all three must be looking over their shoulders," said Gunn.
"I know Ray Clemence has been up here to watch him on a number of occasions and Ken Brown is one of the England scouts, so there must be good reports on Robert getting back to Sven at Soho Square."
With Martyn unable to claim a first-team place behind Robinson at Elland Road and James out of sorts as West Ham United head for the Premiership trapdoor, rival contenders to Robinson and Green are few and far between. Russell Hoult at West Bromwich Albion is one, and Gunn knows another.
"Richard Wright at Everton - he's had his ups and downs in the past, but he appears to be playing consistently now, so I expect he'll be thought of."
Despite this, in Gunn's mind there is no doubt as to who he thinks should be England's next 'keeper.
"Maybe with the Brighton goal in the FA Cup he made a little mistake, but he comes back from those so well," said Gunn. "Any mistakes he makes don't seem to faze him at all and that's tremendous character for a goalkeeper to have."