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Sep 9, 2012

Hodgson: Cleverley can be England's Cesc

Roy Hodgson believes midfielder Tom Cleverley can have a similar impact for England to the one Cesc Fabregas has had in the same role for world and European champions Spain.

Cleverley is again set to play a supporting role behind either Jermaine Defoe or Danny Welbeck in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney against Ukraine at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

Fabregas played a similar role in Spain's strikerless march to glory at Euro 2012 this summer. And Hodgson says it is a job that has a future for Cleverley.

"I suppose you could say Tom Cleverley is an attacking midfield player - but he's an attacking midfield player in the same way Cesc Fabregas is," said Hodgson.

"He plays in that position for Manchester United. He is quite capable of coming back into a central midfield role and winning the ball when necessary.

"Also, he took a bit more responsibility for getting closer to Jermain Defoe and allowing Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to get on the ball in deeper positions where they are comfortable."

After being sidelined by injury for much of last season, Cleverley's hopes of making Euro 2012 had already been dashed before Hodgson was appointed as Fabio Capello's successor. Hodgson selected him for last month's friendly with Italy in Switzerland after watching him at London 2012, which prompted the call-up for England's opening World Cup games.

"It was important for me because that's where I sort of discovered him," said Hodgson. "I knew him when he was at Watford and I'd seen him play a couple of times, and I'd seen him play a few games as substitute for Manchester United. But he got injured very early last season, so the Olympics was the opportunity for me to cast the rule over him."

Meanwhile, England skipper Gerrard is predicting "a fantastic future" for Cleverley after his performance against Moldova. A brace from Lampard, plus goals to Defoe, Leighton Baines and James Milner ensured an easy win for Roy Hodgson's side, but Gerrard singled out Cleverley after the 5-0 win.

"Tom is going to be a good player," Gerrard said. "He is only a young boy. Games like that in Moldova will be fantastic experience for him.

"He is playing for one of the biggest clubs in Europe and he has broken into the England team so he has got a fantastic future. He keeps learning the game, keeps trying to improve, he is going to be a top player."

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