Belfast Telegraph

Fonte backs Bertrand for England

Ryan Bertrand can develop the goal threat to break back into the England squad, according to Southampton team-mate Jose Fonte.

The on-loan Chelsea full-back blasted his first Saints goal as Ronald Koeman's men saw off QPR 2-1 at St Mary's on Saturday.

Bertrand has two England caps and a Champions League winners' medal, but his season-long switch to Southampton is his ninth loan stint away from Chelsea.

Captain Fonte believes Southampton can now help 25-year-old Bertrand force his way back into Roy Hodgson's England plans.

"I've been telling him a lot he needs to get forward, that he needs to start scoring goals to get in the England squad," said Fonte.

"He has the ability for that. He's a great player and he's been great for us so far.

"He came and he gelled very well. Also, we want to keep pushing him so he can be better and better.

"He's a player with a great pedigree.

"I think he's enjoying it here: we gave him a lot of confidence, a lot of self-belief.

"He's matured now, he's a little bit older and everything's getting together for him.

"I just hope he can keep pushing on, and I hope he can get in the England squad."

Southampton manager Koeman won 78 caps for Holland as a defender packing a goal threat, and he can see a kindred attacking spirit in Bertrand.

The former Ajax and Barcelona defender said Bertrand now needs regular football to reach his potential.

"We spoke about the possibilities after (Luke) Shaw went to United because we needed a player in that position," said Koeman.

"If you are a Chelsea player that means you have good quality but he missed playing regular games.

"I like him as a player because he's an offensive left full-back.

"He has shown his qualities from the first day, but I expected this kind of quality.

"All he needed was to play every weekend, and now he's doing that it makes him stronger and more confident."

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