Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lucky Jim

Congratulations to James Milner, whose two goals for England U21s on Tuesday night helped his side (skippered by Steven Taylor) to a comfortable 3-0 victory over their Republic of Ireland counterparts. The first has been credited in some quarters as a Stephen O'Halloran own goal, but the second, a low shot from distance, was very definitely his.

Milner has looked rather jaded of late, and was rested (or dropped) against the Smogs. On the one hand, he could perhaps have benefited from another night off, but on the other it will be good to have a player once again brimming with confidence returning to the training ground.

By contrast, one man whose confidence and pride will have taken a knock is Michael Owen, left unused on the bench by Fabio Capello, who opted to employ a lone striker and dynamic five-man midfield in his first game in charge against Switzerland. A blow, especially as he's started to look sharper of late under Keegan, and proved on Sunday that with quality service he's still one of the most lethal finishers around, even with his head.

Finally, do I really need to tell you that Shay Given made a number of blinding saves in the Republic of Ireland goal last night to keep Brazil at bay, but that pressure and class eventually told and he ended up on the losing side? International duty really must be a busman's holiday for him...


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