Martinez tips Kirkland for England

BY foxsports • December 15, 2009

It may seem like an outlandish suggestion given Kirkland has only represented his country once, as a substitute against Greece in August 2006. But with doubts surrounding all his other keepers, Capello might be forced to look at potential alternatives. And, on the eve of his return to Liverpool, Kirkland has been given top billing by his club boss. "Chris would be the perfect choice," said Martinez. "He has proved beyond question that he is one of the best English goalkeepers and is now in the best form of his career. "People may say it is not realistic but I disagree. "When you look at the options Fabio Capello has got, Chris is as good as anybody." Certainly Kirkland has the benefit of being able to play regularly. It is something Ben Foster - England's keeper for the recent friendly defeat in Brazil - cannot say given he has slipped down to third choice at Manchester United. The widely accepted first-choice, David James, has not started a game for the Three Lions since last April due to various injuries and Capello recently suggested the veteran's troublesome knee complain prevents him training after matches. Robert Green's form has dipped during West Ham's difficult season, while neither Joe Hart nor Paul Robinson seem to impress Capello that much. Kirkland did once suggest a long-standing back complaint had effectively ended his England ambitions. However, it is unlikely the Leicestershire-born keeper could turn down the chance of representing the Three Lions once more. "Chris is just the right age," said Martinez. "He has loads of experience and the ability to go with it. That is why he is so important for us. "He did get a little problem in his back but he manages that really well and is generally much stronger now. "He is a huge asset to us and I am looking forward to him maintain his current standards for the rest of the season because Chris could easily end up at the World Cup and nobody would deserve it more." A clean sheet against the Merseyside giants would certainly be a notable achievement. It is something Wigan have not managed in eight previous top flight encounters, which have mustered a grand total of two points. Yet, with just three wins in 15 games and storm clouds swirling around Anfield that not even the prayers of Jamie Carragher can get rid of, Wigan will arguably never have a better chance of correcting that record. The Latics are blighted by inconsistency themselves. Wins at Aston Villa and Burnley - Wigan are the only team to win at Turf Moor this season - are the high points of their away campaign, that 9-1 hammering at Tottenham and a four goal battering the depressing lows. Hendry Thomas returns after missing Saturday's draw at Stoke - made memorable by Maynor Figueroa's amazing goal from inside his own half and Hugo Rodallega's last-minute penalty miss - to give Wigan's midfield some defensive stability. But, given the home side's pressing need for points and the visitors' commitment to an expansive game, Martinez is predicting an open contest. "Anfield will always be a tough place to visit," reflected Martinez. "But it is also a glamorous place. You should look forward to playing against a team like Liverpool and I feel we are ready to do ourselves justice."

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