'Improving' Nolan deserves England call-up, says Lee
Wednesday 31 January 2007
Sammy Lee, Bolton Wanderers' assistant manager, believes that Kevin Nolan can do no more to try to force his way into the England squad.
The Bolton captain has been linked with a call-up on many occasions but has so far failed to make the breakthrough. Ahead of the latest squad announcement on Friday for next week's friendly against Spain, Nolan is apparently again in the running.
His midfield performances and leadership skills have been lauded, and he is the driving force behind Bolton's bid for a top-six finish in the Premiership this season. But whether he gets the nod on this occasion from the England manager Steve McClaren remains to be seen.
Lee, a former member of England's back-room team under Sven Goran Eriksson, concedes that he "would love to see Nolan in the squad". He added: "It would be remiss of me to try and pick the England squad. All I will say is that whenever Kevin plays for us he is totally committed to the Bolton Wanderers cause. He is improving with each and every game, and that's all he can do. It's then up to other people to decide whether he is or isn't good enough for the England national team."
Lee, meanwhile, confirmed that the manager Sam Allardyce is looking to tie up a late deal or two ahead of the closure of the transfer window tonight.
"Sam will continue to be busy right up until the last minute," Lee said. "When you've someone like Sam who can attract the best from all over the world, then we're always optimistic of bringing in new players."
At least Allardyce is not in a panic-buying situation given Bolton's comfortable position in the table. "I think I heard Jose Mourinho say this transfer window just gets crazy in the last 24 hours," Lee said. "But Sam is very sensible when it comes to making offers. He knows what we can and can't afford. He knows our budget and makes sure we stay within that budget."
Lee has confirmed that Tal Ben Haim is available for selection to face Charlton at the Reebok Stadium, despite the fact he remains linked with a move to Chelsea. An apparent calf injury sidelined him for Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round draw at Arsenal, although it was rumoured he pulled out of the game to ensure he did not become cup-tied.
Despite that, Lee insists that the Israeli defender is another who remains committed to the club, adding: "He comes into the equation. He wasn't available for us at the weekend, but he is included in the squad and he will be fully committed.
"If you look at every game he plays for us, you can see the total commitment."
If Ben Haim should move to Stamford Bridge, Allardyce is likely to keep faith with the defence that performed so well at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. He is again without El-Hadji Diouf through suspension after his dismissal in the defeat at Middlesbrough.
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