Coyle urges Capello to consider Davies again

Bolton 4 Tottenham Hotspur 2
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The Independent Football

All eyes – and a few hefty tackles – were on Gareth Bale but the attention was seized by Kevin Davies, whose two goals prompted Owen Coyle to urge Fabio Capello to award his ruggedly professional captain a second international cap when England meet France in a friendly on Wednesday week.

Capello made the 33-year-old striker England's oldest debutant for 60 years when he sent him on as a second-half substitute in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro last month and was at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday to see him take the leading role as Tottenham were reminded of how far they must travel still if their membership of the Premier League elite is not to be only temporary.

Given that he is not exactly spoilt for alternatives, the Italian probably had Davies pencilled in anyway. To see him doing what he does best as well as he can will not have discouraged him.

For Coyle, there is no argument. "If Kevin is given the opportunity he will not let anybody down," he said. "When he came on [against Montenegro] I felt he caused real problems.

"He is not a poacher in the Jimmy Greaves mould because there is so much asked of him within the framework of the team. But he is a good finisher and if he was more selfish there would be more goals.

"And he is so conscientious. After we lost at home to Liverpool, he asked me if he was doing enough. I said to him that you do more than enough. But that's how he is. As the captain, he wanted to know if there was any more he could bring to his game."

It was a fulsome endorsement. But then nobody doubts that Davies is a good professional and he brought all his experience and know-how into play on Saturday, putting in his customary shift as Bolton's back-to-goal fulcrum and winning balls in midfield but supplementing the workrate this time with a couple of well-taken goals, placing the first in the bottom corner after Sandro had been dispossessed by Fabrice Muamba and putting his penalty beyond the reach of Heurelho Gomes after the busily productive Chung-Yong Lee had been pushed in the box. Bolton's second goal, finished cleanly by the full-back, Gretar Steinsson, capped the move of the game but the header with which Davies sent Martin Petrov away to score Bolton's fourth was technically superb, a match almost for the high-quality late strikes from Alan Hutton and Roman Pavlyuchenko that briefly threatened a Tottenham recovery.

But Capello, you hope, is not a man to hand out international caps as service rewards. Few would begrudge Davies recognition nor deny him his pride but he is not the future and his England career should be as short-lived as it is late-starting.

Bale, on the other hand, is the future, although Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, is wise enough to retain perspective amid the hype surrounding his young midfielder, absurdly hailed by some as the best player in the world after his performance in the downing of European champions Internazionale last week.

"He has got miles to go to be that," Redknapp said. "He has been brilliant for us – but Messi and Ronaldo are the best players in the world, aren't they?"

But not role models in every respect. Asked if Bale should take his cue from Ronaldo in seeking "protection" from referees after Steinsson had left an early impression on the Welshman's ankles, Redknapp's reply was pleasingly reassuring.

"If by that you mean should he cheat, then no," he said. "If he is not injured he should get up. I saw Ronaldo fall over the other day when no one had touched him and I wouldn't want Gareth to do that."

Match facts

Man of the match K Davies Match rating 8/10

Possession Bolton 46% Tottenham 54%

Shots on target Bolton 6 Tottenham 4

Referee Chris Foy (Merseyside) Att 20,255

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