Harry Redknapp is convinced that Tottenham's rising star Jake Livermore has all the makings of an England international of the future.
Injuries to Sandro and Tom Huddlestone at the start of the season meant Livermore was thrust into first-team action ahead of schedule and the 22-year-old has not looked back since.
Livermore's only previous experience of first-team football at Spurs came in the form of a one-minute cameo against Stoke City in 2010 and a Carling Cup start against Arsenal, but he has made 29 appearances this season, 17 of which have been starts.
Spurs manager Redknapp has talked regularly over the last few years about how disappointed he is that so few of the club's academy products have gone on to become first-team regulars and star at international level.
Ledley King is the only player who has fulfilled that ambition in recent years, but Redknapp is sure that Livermore can follow in the Spurs captain's footsteps if he continues to progress at his current rate.
"He [Livermore] could be [an England international]," the manager said. "The sky is the limit for Jake. His attitude is so good. He wants to get to the top and when you have that type of attitude there is no reason why he can't do it. He has the ability as well so he has a good chance."
Livermore showed maturity beyond his years to command Tottenham's midfield against a Manchester United team that contained experienced Premier League campaigners Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick on Sunday.
The Enfield-born midfielder was shipped out on loan no fewer than five times before moving up to the first team, and Redknapp admits his predecessors thought Livermore was a lost cause.
"When I came here people weren't sure that he was ever going to make it," Redknapp said. "He had his injuries. Some people were tending to write him off, but when I came here from day one I just found him to be a fantastic boy. He did ever so well the other day in there with Sandro against Manchester United. I was pleased with those two."
Livermore is likely to keep his place in the Spurs line-up for tonight's FA Cup fifth-round replay against Stevenage at White Hart Lane.
The former Spurs strikerDarren Bent has undergone successful surgery on his ruptured ankle ligaments and can now set his sights on trying to be part of Great Britain's Olympic squad.
The Aston Villa player's hopes of playing for England during the Euro 2012 finals were shattered when he suffered the setback against Wigan at the DW Stadium 10 days ago.
But the positive news about his operation in London on Monday night is that Bent will be able to resume full training in early June, leaving enough time to prove his fitness for the Olympics. The 28-year-old is one of three over-age Villa players included on Team GB Olympic football coach Stuart Pearce's provisional longlist of players for the tournament.
A Villa statement read: "Darren Bent underwent surgery in a London clinic to repair ruptured ligaments in his left ankle. The operation was a complete success and it is expected that Darren will be able to resume full training in around 12 weeks."Reuse content