Coyle: Kev merits England call

In the aftermath of his outstanding performance in Saturday’s win

at West Ham, the 33-year-old admitted he has given up hope of ever

wearing the Three Lions on his chest. For a player who snubbed the

chance of international honours with Scotland, so committed was he

to the idea of playing for England, it is a hard situation to deal

with. On a couple of occasions last term, he was selected in Fabio

Capello’s expanded squad before being omitted when the Italian

selected his preferred 23. But Coyle, who only made a single

appearance for the Republic of Ireland in 1994, thinks England are

the ones who have missed out. “There is no doubt, within his

career, there have been spells when he should have played,” said

the Bolton chief. “He is a real number nine, a throwback to the old

fashioned-type of centre-forward that we all love watching. “He is

a real leader and a big player in any team. “If he had ever been

allowed the opportunity, he would have represented his country with

real aplomb and the English nation would have been proud to have

had him in that shirt.” Although Davies is one of the senior

players likely to be rested for the Carling Cup trip to former club

Southampton, he still has an influential role to play in Coyle’s

squad. It has been suggested his robust style is not suited to the

international arena. However, it has made the Sheffield-born star a

crowd favourite at the Reebok Stadium and Coyle insists he is

sinned against far more than he breaks the rules himself. “I am not

saying Kevin Davies is an angel. But he receives more punishment

than he gives out because that is the nature of the physical

battle,” he said. “That is why we love football and why we love

that type of tussle. “When I look at the outstanding forwards

England have had, particularly the quick ones and the good

finishers, they would have benefited from playing alongside Kevin

Davies when you think of the knock-downs he could have provided.”

Davies is not the only player Coyle intends to rest for the trip to

St Mary’s Stadium. Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen is also set to

stand down, which would mean a debut for promising Hungary-born

21-year-old Alex Bogdan. Not that Coyle intends merely to throw in

a group of kids and give no thought to the outcome. As the man who

guided Burnley into the semi-finals two years ago – where they were

unlucky to lose against Tottenham – and then saw how that run

galvanised the Clarets, who were ultimately promoted through the

play-offs, Coyle knows the benefits that can emerge from extended

participation in a cup competition. “I have always loved cup

competitions and I have always believed they can work alongside a

league programme,” he said. “You want to win every competition you

enter. “We showed that at Burnley. The Carling Cup run we had there

galvanised us and took us on collectively. “But over the course of

that season, we played 61 games, so you do have to juggle things

around a little bit.”