Green streets ahead of rest

WITH 10 MINUTES to go in Saturday s match, England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence had seen enough and made his way out of the directors box, writes DAVE EVANS. For the former Liverpool and Spurs goalkeeper it was simply a case of Rovers Paul Robinson ag

WITH 10 MINUTES to go in Saturday's match, England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence had seen enough and made his way out of the directors' box, writes DAVE EVANS.

For the former Liverpool and Spurs goalkeeper it was simply a case of Rovers' Paul Robinson against West Ham's Robert Green, and when the England squad was announced on Sunday evening, it was the Hammer who had won the battle.

It certainly hadn't been an easy week for the 29-year-old keeper. Last Monday, he got an elbow in the face from West Brom's Jonas Olsson ,which caused bits of his tongue to drop off!

On Saturday he had to deal with the belligerent El Hadji Diouf standing in front of him at every set-piece, trying to muscle the goalkeeper off the ball.


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Was Green wary of going in where it hurts so soon after Monday's blow? Certainly not.

"I've had worse whacks than the one on Monday and picked myself up," insisted the former Norwich man, who will be looking to add to his two caps when Fabio Capello's men take on Slovakia on Saturday and Ukraine next Wednesday.

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"My tongue is still hanging off a bit, but they say the tongue is the quickest healer, so thankfully it was almost healed by the next day."

It was not easy for Green at Ewood Park in the second half as Sam Allardyce's men bombarded the West Ham area, but he and the defence coped with it admirably.

"It is difficult to know what to do as a goalkeeper," he explained. "It is one of those where you are thinking 'come for everything and help everybody out', but then sometimes if you are not going to catch it, it makes it very difficult.

"You have got to be clinical and it is about making choices, so it is a different challenge and one if we had kept a clean sheet today, would have been up there with the best of them."

Keith Andrews' equaliser early in the second half ruled out that clean sheet, but Green was full of praise for the team's battling display.

"It was a backs-to-the-wall job at times," he admitted. "They are very difficult to play against and the ball was inevitably going to come into our box.

"But I think considering the restrictions we had on players, we played well in patches, scored a wonderful goal and battled and battled."

Green has played 103 games for West Ham since his �2million bargain move from East Anglia in the summer of 2006, and he has seen enough of his team to know that hanging on for a point, is something the Hammers have struggled with.

"It was a game that in seasons gone by, at least since I've been at the club, we could have crumbled," said Green. "But everyone stood up to it and it was one of those games which you enjoy in a perverse sort of way.

"It was a point, and a point away in the Premier League is always a good one."

There was a time when Green was constantly ignored by various England coaches, but Capello seems to have decided that the goalkeeper's classy performances deserve a more secure place in the squad.

He has kept seven clean sheets in 15 games since the start of 2009, including three on the trot before Saturday's game at Blackburn. And it is his club form that Green is concentrating on.

"I think there is probably someone from England watching all the Premier League games, if they weren't, you would wonder what they were doing," said Green modestly.

"I've no idea what will happen next week. It was great to get on last time against Spain, but all I can do is carry on doing my stuff here and keep on working hard."

Green is certainly doing his stuff at West Ham and if he carries on doing it until the end of the season, the Hammers won't be far away from that place in Europe.

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