The other day I discussed Caleb Folan and Henri Camara’s chances of a start at St. James’ Park and they were out of the door before Chris Hutchings got chance to think about it. Today I’d got three quarters of the way through an article explaining how, even though he may not be a top notch international striker, Emile Heskey was at least as much of an option to Steve Maclaren as Alan Smith or Peter Crouch, when the news filtered through that Emile was joining Caleb and Henri and would playing for another manager next week.
I would have concluded that both Heskey and Michael Owen had, arguably, played their best football when partnered by the other. Their time with both Liverpool and England was fruitful when Heskey played through the middle in support of the man who now only seems fit when there’s an international tournament coming around Then someone (it could have been Houllier, or maybe Keegan) decided that Heskey was a left winger, ultimately bringing an end to his international career.
Until today that is. Steve Maclaren had no doubt travelled to the North-East to check on the form and fitness of his number 10, but he got a timely reminder of the growing wave of support for the forgotten man of England’s front line (well if you can call Andy Gray, Me and twenty other ‘tics a wave)
Emile may not have been the most impressive of Latics’ Englishmen on the day, that honour would have to go to Kirkland or Bramble, but in a mainly defensive display he must have done enough to warrant his first call up since the cull that followed Euro 2004. He’s only managed a goal every 4 or so games since then so you can only assume that this is recognition of what everyone has always said about the big man.
Heskey is the players’ player, someone who will put the team first and places hard work ahead of glory. A perfect foil for the likes of Owen, who’s a striker first and a footballer second. Whether the three years away from the heights of international, and European, football have dulled his senses, only time will tell. Until then we’ll live with the dream of seeing the first Wigan Athletic player to pull on an England shirt.
Because this call-up ends all the debate over Chris Kirkland’s cap from last season. At that time he was still, technically a Liverpool player, injury and the form of Scott Carson keeping him out of the squad since. Even so, there will have been a few bets placed on a proper member of the squad making the grade sooner or later, but those eyes will have been on the, now vacant, left back slot.
Well done Emile, and good luck, it’s a proud day for you and the club and you deserve the chance. Go give them one in the eye for us, just don’t come back injured.
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