Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fit King Is Backed to Rule in Midfield; AS SPURS MAN RETURNS FOR ENGLAND, DEBATE GOES ON ABOUT WHAT IS HIS BEST POSITION

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fit King Is Backed to Rule in Midfield; AS SPURS MAN RETURNS FOR ENGLAND, DEBATE GOES ON ABOUT WHAT IS HIS BEST POSITION

Article excerpt

THE international renaissance of David Beckham has understandably dominated the debate this week but it is another comeback which, in the longer term, could be even more significant for England.

Tottenham's thoroughbred defender, Ledley King, is back fit and playing which is good news both for Steve McClaren, who is contemplating employing him against Brazil tomorrow, and his club coach, Martin Jol.

King, whose career has been blighted by injury, last started a game for England in the so-called 'friendly' international against Argentina in Geneva in November 2005.

Back then Sven-Goran Eriksson employed King in a midfield holding role, a position about which the player himself has not been overwhelming in his enthusiasm.

That particular evening in Switzerland against Argentina, you could understand King's apprehension.

England won a pulsating match 3-2 but the 26-year-old Spurs star was pulled all over the place by a languid young man in a blue shirt, named Juan Riquelme.

Up until then Eriksson had great hopes for King as a defensive midfield player but his uncertainty that day up against the talented Argentine raised doubts about that particular role.

Since then injury has decimated King's progress but the softly-spoken young man from Bow is happily fit again and inevitably the debate about how best to use him will return.

King has consistently said that he prefers the central defensive position but will play anywhere for the team, be it Spurs or England.

There are those who say that King is certainly no Claude Makelele as a holding player, that he is not mobile enough and is not able to read the game sufficiently well in that position.

Someone who emphatically disagrees with that opinion is David Pleat who, as then caretaker manager at White Hart Lane, was delighted with the way King performed in midfield, when asked.

"Both George Graham, when he was Spurs manager, and I played Ledley in that role," saidPleat.

"At the time it was needs must because of the personnel available to us but there is no doubt Ledley has all the attributes to play in a defensive midfield role.

"Ledley wasn't too voluble when he first came into the Spurs team but he preferred to play at the back he still has that preference. …

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