Monday 08 October 2012
Steven Caulker has expressed his delight at being given the chance to shine at Tottenham Hotspur this season.
After being sent out on loan for the past three seasons, Andre Villas-Boas has put his faith in the 20-year-old this campaign by starting him in Tottenham's last four matches after Younes Kaboul suffered a long-term knee injury.
The defender's performances have put him ahead of Michael Dawson in the pecking order, and also earned him a first call-up to the England squad for August's friendly against Italy, although he missed out on the squad for the latest round of internationals.
"You want to know that if you are playing well and you are training well you will be in the team," Caulker said. "It's not nice when there are favourites, I think AVB has brought that into the team and I am happy.
"The manager has come in, he's brought a few youngsters in, myself included, and he has pushed a few of us forward. When I came back he said I was in his plans, so I have to trust that and be patient and so far it has worked well.
"The main thing now is that I'm going into the international break having played in the team. I have played in a few games now and my confidence is up."
"I have played in a few games now and my confidence is up"
Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund have talked up Caulker as an England star of the future, something which has gone down well with the player.
"To hear that from the boss is fantastic," Caulker said. "You always have to have that self-belief that you can go all the way. That is what I am in the game for."
Caulker's performance in Sunday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa, in which he scored a first goal for the club, drew high praise from Villas-Boas.
"He looked impressive for the age that he is," the Spurs manager said. "He has come in to the team and has had no fear.
"It's thanks to the work of the development team and the Academy that we are bringing these quality players through."
Jonas Gutierrez is hoping the impending return of Fabricio Coloccini will help Newcastle United ahead of their derby showdown with Sunderland a week on Sunday.
Newcastle's defence has been shorn of the services of both Coloccini and Steven Taylor and without them went down 3-0 to Manchester United on Sunday.
However, manager Alan Pardew will hope to have both the captain and Taylor back at his disposal for the trip to the Stadium of Light and Gutierrez is convinced that the return of his compatriot will provide a significant boost.
"He [Coloccini] is really important for us," Gutierrez said. "They players who have been playing in that position have been really great, James Perch and Mike Williamson.
"They have done fantastically well during the time that Colo was injured. But always it is important to have the captain back. He is really important for the team and for the squad. We need players for the next few weeks, which are going to be tough, so it's really important to have those players back."