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Horncastle: Torino in best form for decades

Serie A
By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex backs Allardyce as England boss

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Sam Allardyce as 'an outstanding candidate' to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager.

Ferguson will square up to Allardyce when Manchester United visit Bolton tomorrow with the Red Devils boss expecting the usual tough test.

Having rescued the Trotters from obscurity in the Football League and taken them into Europe, Allardyce has already established himself as one of the top 'English' managers in the country.

It is thought the Bolton manager has already held informal talks with FA chief executive Brian Barwick about the job and is likely to end up on a short-list which will probably also contain Alan Curbishley and Martin O'Neill.

But, if Ferguson was making the decision, it appears Allardyce would be his choice.

'Without question, I think Sam has an outstanding chance (of getting the England job),' said Ferguson, who had a brief stint as an international manager himself in 1986 when he stepped in to take charge of Scotland's World Cup campaign following the death of Jock Stein.

'He has the experience and you cannot ignore the job he has done at Bolton.

'If you are working to the criteria of success at a football club, it is there.'

Like Ferguson, Allardyce had a relatively inauspicious playing career and there are some who feel his lack of big-game experience as a manager will count against him when he tries to handle the seasoned internationals within the England squad.

But, judging by the way he admires the work Allardyce has done at Bolton, Ferguson does not see that as an issue.

'Bolton have progressed and improved every year because of Sam's ability to get the best out of players who have been all over the place,' he said.