Can England imagine Aaron Lennon? It's easy if you try

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When Tottenham Hotspur acquired Aaron Lennon last year he was to be under-study to another of their summer signings, Wayne Routledge. Now he will fulfil that role for England and David Beckham.

But more than that the 19-year-old winger showed in his man-of-the-match performance in Thursday's B international defeat against Belarus that he can be England's secret weapon during the World Cup.

"A lot of opponents won't know about me and that could definitely work in my favour," Lennon said. "If I come off the bench I can make an impact. One of my strengths is I can get in the game quickly. I try to create things and make a buzz.

"My strengths are my dribbling and my speed - and I try to score goals as well. I'm not nervous about facing anyone at the World Cup because getting this is a bonus as it is. Nothing would make me scared or nervous."

An injury to Routledge gave Lennon his chance at Spurs. He flourished where the former Crystal Palace winger - who ended up being loaned out to Portsmouth - floundered. Lennon has also been able to take advantage of Shaun Wright-Phillips' disastrous season at Chelsea.

Indeed, his club manager Martin Jol has drawn comparisons between the two right-wingers and implied that Lennon, with his greater technique, is probably a better long-term prospect for England. Either way, at less than £1m from his home-town club Leeds United, he has proved to be a bargain as well as a player of rich potential.

"My Spurs experience has made me ready for this," said Lennon whose strong finish to the season forced Sven Goran Eriksson to include him in England's squad even though he has not won a senior cap.

"I didn't expect to be in at all but it's been brilliant for me so far. Hopefully I'm ready. I think I can make the step-up. I won't be fazed at all, it's my dream come true and I just want to go there and try and do my best. I knew I always had the ability to do this."

Lennon, who made his league debut in August 2003, when he became the youngest player to appear in the Premiership, and is yet to play 100 senior games, is now set to win his first full cap against Hungary on Tuesday. At Old Trafford he may well be deployed in the impact, late substitute, role that could be his, and 17-year-old Theo Walcott's, during the World Cup.

Eriksson was fulsome in his praise, saying that Lennon's performance had justified the decision to chose him ahead of Wright-Phillips while Spurs' team-mate Michael Carrick added: "He was absolutely outstanding. I'm not surprised as he has been doing it every week for Tottenham but to do it on this stage is a credit to him. He's got that pace and sharpness that scares full-backs. He's got the element of surprise."

Another of Spurs' England players, Jermaine Jenas, said: "If he is thrown on in the last 10 or 15 minutes, he can destroy defences." Lennon's performance was more convincing than another of England's young wingers, Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing. Spurs want to harness the two players together next season - but Boro, who are yet to receive a bid, are unlikely to sell. Downing said of his - and Lennon's - display: "We played with two out-and-out wingers, which was a bit of a change for England, and I thought it went really well. Aaron played excellently. We're a bit different from Becks and Joe [Cole]. But we're just there, ready and waiting for a chance."

* The Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster, who has spent the last season on loan at Watford, will join the World Cup stand-by list following Thursday night's groin injury sustained by Robert Green. Scott Carson has been promoted to the main squad.

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