The two faces of Rob Green
WITH JUST one international planned for England before the squad is picked for the World Cup, Robert Green knows that he has to show he is the best in the country through his club form, writes DAVE EVANS. When he was out of the squads picked by first Sven
WITH JUST one international planned for England before the squad is picked for the World Cup, Robert Green knows that he has to show he is the best in the country through his club form, writes DAVE EVANS.
When he was out of the squads picked by first Sven Goran Eriksson and then Steve McClaren, there was arguably no better goalkeeper in the Premier League.
But since he became a fixture in Fabio Capello's squads, Green, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday, hasn't quite been the same player.
Sunday's clash at Aston Villa seemed to epitomise that.
On the one hand he made excellent saves from Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor in the first half and a match-saving dive at the striker's feet right at the death.
But on the other hand, there were moments of nervousness on crosses, a fumble of James Milner's shot that allowed John Carew to score a goal ruled out for offside, and then there was that dribble in his own box and kick straight to a Villa player.
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Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola summed up his goalkeeper pretty well.
"Robert Green was outstanding apart from one moment, when my heart stopped for a few seconds. Fortunately not long enough to damage my brain - that's already damaged!" said the Italian.
"Rob's performance was brilliant and showed that he's back to his normal self."
Not quite, but he is getting there. Whether he is doing enough to get the nod for England's friendly with Egypt at Wembley on March 3 is another matter.
Green has eight caps to his name, letting in six goals during that time, but in his last match against Ukraine he became the first England goalkeeper to be sent off, when Rio Ferdinand's mistake left him exposed and his foul earned him a red card after just 13 minutes.
Former Hammer David James came on in that game as a substitute and with a decent display perhaps put himself back into pole position for the place, but in truth none of the candidates are really impressing this season.
Apart from Green and his inconsistency, James has been injured for much of the season, while Manchester United's Ben Foster seems to be third choice at Old Trafford and when he does play, he is also prone to mistakes.
The goalkeeper making the biggest impression is probably 22-year-old Joe Hart.
The Manchester City stopper is currently on loan at Birmingham City and has been instrumental in the Blues' rise up the Premier League table with some excellent displays, including a clean sheet against West Ham.
Green, meanwhile, was happy to acknowledge his fourth clean sheet of the season.
"I can celebrate a bit as I didn't let one in," said this week's birthday boy. "All of a sudden it's time for me to start living up to my potential now that I'm 30.
"As a goalkeeper they say 32 or 33 is your prime, so I've still got a bit of improving to do."
He may only be joking, but both West Ham and England fans will be hoping that there is some improvement in Green's form this season.
Whatever happens, you still feel that given his chance, Green can be the best that England has to offer in South Africa come the summer.