Taylor sees England future for Johnson

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Peter Taylor, the England Under-21 coach, has pinpointed Glen Johnson as the natural successor to Gary Neville as the senior side's right-back, but admitted Johnson's chances of achieving that would be improved if he was playing first-team football for Chelsea.

Peter Taylor, the England Under-21 coach, has pinpointed Glen Johnson as the natural successor to Gary Neville as the senior side's right-back, but admitted Johnson's chances of achieving that would be improved if he was playing first-team football for Chelsea.

Johnson earned his second full cap against the Ukraine last month before helping Taylor's Under-21 side to back-to-back victories over Austria and Poland. But at Chelsea he is on the fringes of the first team at present following the £13.2m signing of Paulo Ferreira by manager Jose Mourinho from his previous club, Porto.

Taylor said: "I think the challenge for Glen is to try and get into Chelsea's first team and play as many matches as he can and, if it means the Under-21s helps him do that, then we'll be delighted.

"Looking at him as a player, he looks an incredible talent, everything you could want. But it will be far easier for him to get into the senior team by playing in Chelsea's first team. He knows he has got a hell of a challenge on his hands because of the amount of money they have paid for the right full-back [Ferreira].

"I don't know Jose Mourinho at all," Taylor added, "but he gives me the impression he is a very fair bloke and if he thought Glen was doing better than the other right-back, then he'd put him in."

"Is he the obvious player to eventually succeed Gary Neville? Yes, I would have thought there is nothing out there at the minute that would push in ahead of Glen Johnson. Gary Neville is always going to be one of the first names on the sheet at the minute because of his experience. He is such a great defender and a great organiser.

"You can understand why he is playing but I am sure if Glen gets a bit more experience of playing matches, and being more of a bossy defender, then he can go the whole way.

A major plus for Taylor has been the form of striker Carlton Cole who has scored four goals in the last three Under-21 internationals and is benefiting from regular football while on loan at Aston Villa from Chelsea. Taylor said: "Carlton is working unbelievably hard and I think what he is doing is getting some consistency into his performances. Everyone said to me before before I came here that 'sometimes he's good, sometimes he is bad, you are never sure'.

"But, looking at the three games I've had him at Under-21 level, he's worked so hard and made himself have a good game. Even if he has messed a pass up, he has then chased back and won the ball again. The difference is he looks as though he wants to score goals. Around the 18-yard box I can see him being a little bit like Jermain Defoe.

"Carlton knows if he is fit and keeps working hard and keeps in good form, he's got a chance of staying in Villa's first team. That's his target."

Cole brought England back on level terms against the run of play with a first-half injury-time equaliser against Poland on Tuesday. Then the striker gave a half-time rallying call to his team-mates. "Carlton scored a fantastic goal - and then he was one of those in the dressing room at half-time that reminded everyone that the standard in the first half was not good enough," Taylor said.

"He was not very happy with the way we played and said so. He knew that his mates had not performed like they normally can.

"Before I started having my say they were having a gee-up of their own and they were first-class for a group of players in only their second game. They showed a lot of honesty to each other which was great."

Ipswich's Darren Bent scored twice in the second half to give England a 3-1 victory, the second goal being set up by Cole.

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