Football: SMITH: MICHAEL CAN BE ON THE BALL WITH ENGLAND
Byline: DAVID MADDOCK
MICHAEL Ball has rescued his Everton career - and now he is ready to earn an England one.
The young left-back appeared to be on a one-way ticket out of Goodison Park, after a series of clashes with boss Walter Smith.
Ball tried to take the club to a tribunal for what he thought was an unfair fine, and then was famously axed for laughing with Richard Dunne on the coach back from a humiliating defeat at Bristol Rovers. The Under-21 international's days seemed numbered when Smith brought in Scottish left-back Gary Naysmith.
But since Dunne left for Manchester City, Ball has been an ever-present at the heart of the defence.
And now his performances as a centre-half have not only cemented his place in the side - they've also led Smith to call for his promotion into the full England squad.
"A lot of young English defenders are being mentioned at the moment, but I feel for the first time since I've been here that Michael is living up to the level we expected from him," the Everton boss said. …