Goalkeeping coach Dave Watson joins Roy Hodgson's England staff as Wembley friendly sells out
Roy Hodgson made his second England staff appointment yesterday, with Dave Watson installed as his new goalkeepers' coach largely on advice from the Football Association which wanted the former Under-21s coach to be promoted to the senior team set-up.
Watson, 38, played for Barnsley until injury ended his career in 1998 and has since worked at a number of clubs, impressing most recently at Birmingham. It is there that he worked with England No 1 Joe Hart as well as Ben Foster and the Under-21s goalkeeper Jack Butland, gaining a reputation as one of the best young coaches around.
Hodgson has also made his first contact with key players in the squad, speaking to both Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, his most likely choice for captain. John Terry said at Chelsea's player of the year event last night that he was still yet to be contacted by Hodgson. "I've not had any call yet but I'm focusing on the league and Chelsea at the moment," he said. "Hopefully, I get the call and I'm in the squad. I'll always be there for my country."
The FA was keen to have Watson back and Hodgson has initially appointed him for Euro 2012 only, to work alongside Ray Clemence who is the team's long-serving goalkeeping coach. He effectively replaces Franco Tancredi, part of Fabio Capello's Italian backroom staff, who left when the previous England manager departed in February.
Watson's relationship with Foster will also be a key factor in Hodgson's attempts to persuade the goalkeeper, who has been on loan at West Brom this season, to end his year-long international "sabbatical". Watson worked with Hart when the goalkeeper was loaned to Birmingham for the 2009-10 season.
Hodgson is still to appoint a young homegrown coach to work alongside Ray Lewington. The FA would like that to be the Everton captain Phil Neville, who has worked with the England Under-21s in the past, but nothing has been finalised yet.
In a statement yesterday, Hodgson singled out Watson's relationship with Hart as an important consideration in appointing him. "Dave is highly rated throughout the game and is well respected by the goalkeepers who have worked with him, importantly Joe Hart. He has worked with a number of current English goalkeepers and has experience of working with England development teams, so we know he will fit in well."
The FA is also celebrating the first minor achievement of Hodgson's reign: next month's friendly against Belgium at Wembley has sold out, with ticket sales doubling since his appointment. All 73,000 tickets for the game on 2 June that went on general sale have been snapped up. The governing body estimated that sales since Hodgson was appointed on 1 May have climbed above 5,000 on some days.
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