Kevin Nolan is good enough to play for England as an attacking midfielder in the David Platt mould even at 30, according to Sam Allardyce. Nolan will lead out West Ham today against Liverpool, the team he supports, and his manager knows he can count on a maximum level of performance from his captain.
"I think the level of consistency Kevin has always produced in the Premier League has proven that if you want that type of player to play for England, then he is good enough," said Allardyce. "With the experience he has gained, he is a much more mature and better player. He'll never give up on playing for his country."
The comparison with Platt begins with Nolan's eye for a goal – five this season, 98 over his career. "He has a knack of arriving in the box without anybody seeing him," added Allardyce, who took Nolan with him from Bolton to Newcastle before he signed him for West Ham in the summer of 2011. "You're thinking, 'How did he get there?' and then he puts the ball in the net. He's very similar indeed [to Platt].
"When I first met Kevin he was a centre-half in the [Bolton] youth team, but he was only there because he was 6ft 3in and they thought, 'We need a big 'un at centre-half'. He was never good enough defensively but we saw the ability he had and spotted that he likes to get forward. He was playing in the first team and getting us promoted in my first full season at Bolton.
"But he brings an awful lot more than just being a good goalscoring midfield player. I gave Kevin the captaincy at a very young age, which was a difficult decision, but we just felt he had it in him.
"He's good at creating a good dressing-room environment and he's strong enough to weed out the possible troublemakers. There aren't many players who want to take that extra responsibility, because you have to live your life at a higher level than the rest of the players.
"I think players in general have become more introverted than ever before because of the amount of attention they get. Sometimes someone can need someone to give them guidance on the pitch if it's not going as well as he'd want. Having Kevin there is a huge bonus because you [as manager] can't do it, however much you try to do it on the touchline and jump up and down and shout. Especially at West Ham – because you can hardly hear yourself think when we are going well."
West Ham United v Liverpool is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm