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England mulling Januzaj call up

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After a stunning breakthrough campaign with Manchester United, 19-year-old winger Adnan Januzaj was awarded a surprise World Cup call-up by Belgium coach Marc Wilmots. Photo: Shaun Botterill

London – England are still assessing the possibility of calling up Manchester United's Belgium-born winger Adnan Januzaj, manager Roy Hodgson has revealed.

Hodgson first expressed an interest in Januzaj last October after he scored two goals in a 2-1 win at Sunderland and the 19-year-old has continued to impress despite United's on-pitch struggles.

Januzaj is of Kosovan descent and also qualifies to play for countries including Belgium, Albania and Turkey, but he is uncapped at youth level and has yet to pledge his allegiance to any particular nation.

He could one day qualify to play for England on residency grounds and an FA spokesman has confirmed that England are liasing with world governing body Fifa over the issue of Januzaj's eligibility.

“All I can say on the subject is that I think it's a matter for the FA board,” Hodgson told journalists during a briefing at Wembley Stadium.

“I think there's no question of that, because it does raise a lot of issues within football.

“It's quite simple: my answer at the moment is that, until such time as the FA board have got it very, very clear in their mind what their policy's going to be – is it going to be quite simply following Fifa dictates, is it going to be slightly different in some way? – all I can do is wait and see.

“But the one thing you've got to understand with Januzaj, whichever way England decide to go, with the way the rules are at the moment, there's no way he can play for England for the next few years.”

Speaking three weeks before England's next friendly, at home to Denmark, Hodgson also played down concerns that his players will be too fatigued at the end of the season to make an impact at the World Cup in Brazil.

The Premier League's lack of a mid-season break has long been considered a factor in England's recurrent failures at major international tournaments, but Hodgson says that English players are not the only ones affected.

“They will be exhausted, they will be tired, and strangely enough, in the past we've lamented our season and the intensity of our league and how that puts us at a slight disadvantage,” he said.

“Going through the players (in the Premier League) the other day, the fact that there are 23 Frenchmen playing regularly in the league and 15 Belgians and 14 Spaniards et cetera, we're not going to be quite so much alone as we maybe once were.”

Citing the example of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who will play against England for Uruguay at the World Cup, Hodgson added:

“Luis Suarez, he's not going to be fresher at the end of a league season than Wayne Rooney.”

Hodgson also paid tribute to goalkeeper Joe Hart, who has regained his first-team place at Manchester City after being rested towards the end of 2013 following a series of high-profile mistakes.

“It was good, his response. It must have been very hard for him to lose his place in the team and (he received) a lot of criticism at the time,” Hodgson said.

“I think he did very well when he got his chance again to grab it with both hands and turn in some good performances, so I'm very pleased for him.

“I never doubted his ability to do it, but you've still got to do it, and he did.” – Sapa-AFP


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