Lightning-fast winger adds deadly dash of mischief

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The Independent Online

But Billy Wright, Stan Mortensen and Glenn Hoddle all primed their senior careers with smart performances at this level and, in the build-up to Italia '90, it was through his displays for the B team that Paul Gascoigne convinced Bobby Robson he was ready.

Gascoigne went on to electrify the No 19 shirt in Italy. In Germany England's No 19 will be Aaron Lennon, another Tottenham youngster with dreams in his head and mischief in his boots.

Theo Walcott may, or may not, have much of an impact in Germany but he has already had one on Lennon, deflecting the attention away from the 19-year-old. This has enabled him to ease into the squad, and the spotlight.

Until last night, that is. The secret is now out. Within the first 10 minutes the Belarus left-back, Torpedo Moscow's Alexander Yurevich, was beginning to show signs of twisted blood as Lennon weaved his way past him at will.

From one such run he set up Peter Crouch for what, but for a sharp-eyed linesman, would have been England's first. After 15 minutes he almost scored himself, gliding a delicate chip on to the roof of the net. He also showed an ability to drift with purpose, twice embarrassing the experienced holding player Alexander Kulchy and nearly releasing Michael Owen.

Lennon also showed he has another crucial quality: courage. The Belarus defenders resorted to increasingly physical attempts to stop him, but Lennon just jumped to his feet and came back for more. It was no surprise when Sergei Omelyanchuk was dismissed, having twice been cautioned for fouling him.

How will Lennon respond to his rising fame? With greater maturity than Gazza to judge from his words in yesterday's programme. "At the beginning of the season my goal was to break into the Tottenham team - England didn't really enter my mind," he said.

When Sven Goran Eriksson became a White Hart Lane regular, prompting talk of a call-up, Lennon said he "didn't worry. I just played my game. If you start worrying about other things then it will affect you."

His Spurs team-mate, Paul Robinson, confirmed: "Nothing seems to faze him. He just enjoys himself."

He should continue to do so. With his wing twin, Stewart Downing, lacking Lennon's quick feet and naked pace the younger man is likely to be the one summoned from the bench when Eriksson is in need. Indeed, if the right wing were not occupied by the captain, he might even be close to starting.

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