Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce hails England hopefuls

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce sees no reason why Carl Jenkinson and Mark Noble should not be able to follow Stewart Downing in playing their way into the England squad.

Midfielder Downing, 30, has been one of the stand-out performers in the Hammers' impressive start to the new Barclays Premier League season, which has seen the east London club climb into fifth place.

Downing earned the last of his 34 caps in May 2012, with the former Liverpool man now benefiting from a run in the West Ham side deployed in a more central role by Allardyce.

He believes right-back Jenkinson, on loan from Arsenal, and all-action midfielder Noble must focus on continuing their good domestic form to keep themselves in the frame with national team boss Roy Hodgson, whose side tackle Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley a week on Saturday before heading to Scotland for a friendly in Glasgow.

"They just have to keep playing well and consistently, winning football matches and keep staying in the top five and that will get them in eventually. You can't ignore that then," said Allardyce.

"There seems to be a particular problem at right-back at the minute (for England) and I think Carl has got the potential, based on my short time with him, of getting a chance.

"Carl has been at Charlton, then Arsenal and he is now playing regularly for us.

"It just seems that Kyle Walker has been out for a long time and Glen Johnson at Liverpool seems to get the odd injury here and there.

"Right-back has become a bit of a challenge for Roy - who are they? Where are they? And how good are they?"

While West Ham have surged up the table with an unbeaten six-match run, Saturday's opponents Aston Villa have plummeted the other way following half-a-dozen defeats after winning at Liverpool in mid-September.

Villa boss Paul Lambert says he does not fear for his job in spite of the poor run of form.

Allardyce, who himself was under plenty of pressure last season, believes people need to look at the bigger picture.

"I think if Paul had as much money to spend as Martin O'Neill he would be very, very happy and you would expect he wouldn't be in this position," said the West Ham manager.

"There was a change of financial policy at Aston Villa and when he eventually took over it was about reduction of wages rather than increase of wages.

"When you have had to manage that period and that level it would be the biggest learning experience as a manager that he has ever experienced.

"Paul has to do a bit of number-crunching on top of trying to get results.

"That is a difficult period to manage because you know at the end of the day it is all about results.

"You will get no leeway from the fans because you have reduced the wage bill by half or managed the financial situation if you don't get results on the field.

"Then in between that the owner has decided to put the club up for sale and now everybody is hanging and waiting to see if it will be sold.

"It is a very difficult period to manage in and then continue to focus and get results and keep the club around the expectations that Villa fans have, and where they are at the minute is a very bad position."

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