Lennon coming of age to provide teenage kicks for England

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Skilful, intelligent and tellingly quick, the north-London based protégé revelled in the company of established internationals to suggest he may not be such a gamble after all. A true test in a competitive arena is still to come, but thus far Aaron Lennon is thriving on his graduation.

Free from the hype, the fierce debate and the expectation that surrounds Arsenal's Theo Walcott, the 19-year-old Tottenham winger has avoided the paraphernalia his passport to Germany would usually attract to settle swiftly into the previously uncharted territory of England's squad.

Lennon's impact throughout the first week of preparation for the World Cup is said to have made a genuine impression on Eriksson, and while Walcott will be the focus of the B-team friendly against Belarus on Thursday night, his fellow untested adolescent will also be asked to come of age at the Madejski Stadium. According to one England colleague, who watched Lennon perform 29 times for Spurs, the young Yorkshireman will be unperturbed by that question.

Paul Robinson, another bargain Tottenham landed out of the Elland Road fire sale, said of his £1m team-mate: "I saw Aaron quite a few times when he was coming through the ranks at Leeds and, when I was in the first team there, he was the young lad they were all talking about. Now he's come to Tottenham and he's really developed. There's a real buzz about him. When he goes past a player it gives the crowd a huge lift and nothing seems to faze him.

"I'm delighted to see Aaron in the squad because he's done so well this season and he'll bring something different to England. Maybe he won't start games, but with his pace and ability to run at players, he could perhaps come on for the last 15 minutes of a game and totally change the outcome. The same goes for Theo Walcott. The likes of Aaron and Theo have added a freshness to our squad. Both of them are unknown quantities and maybe other teams won't know how to handle them."

Robinson is spending much of his spare time studying the penalty-taking techniques of possible opponents at the World Cup. "I've been doing a lot of research and I'll be prepared for a penalty shoot-out if it comes to that," Robinson said. "I'm not going to tell you what research but [I've given] myself the best chance of saving a penalty in the World Cup."