Alvin: Joe Is Closer

Joe Cole could be on the brink of making the breakthrough to becoming an England regular, says Alvin Martin.

Alvin admits to being disappointed and surprised that he did not get on in the Brazil game which sealed England's fate, and explains:

"The World Cup didn't exactly light up the nation although we had our moments, but I'd have liked to have seen Joe Cole given a bigger introduction.

"I think even neutrals, when they look back on the World Cup, are saying that he should have got a run out against Brazil.

"Everyone felt Eriksson took Joe because he felt he could offer the England side something no one else could with his ability to unlock a door here and there - and add a spark.

"When we needed that spark, he wasn't brought on, and from a technical and tactical point of view that was a criticism of Eriksson.

"But I think Joe will have gained a lot by just being there, and he didn't moan; if you moan with England you don't get a very long career with them.

"He knows that there is still plenty of time; if he was, say, 30, he would be thinking his chances are running out but he knows he has got two World Cups in him at least.

"He will be looking for that consistency he had in the second half of last season."

With the first World Cup squad after the World Cup less than a week from being named, Alvin sees a bright future for other Hammers players as well.

"David James has got a real opportunity now to establish himself as a number one," he says.

"You'd expect Seaman to have ongoing problems with injuries perhaps, and Nigel Martyn is going to be forced onto the back foot by Robinson at Leeds - which will give David James the opportunity of establishing himself in that number one position.

"Michael Carrick is someone that is looking to get a good start this season and getting more and more involved in that central midfield area.

"Trevor Sinclair convinced a lot of people that he is the solution in the wider area in the World Cup; he started to play against Argentina like he does for West Ham and that is the secret of international football.

"I feel Trevor did very well and has now got a wealth of experience behind him, which hopefully he can put to good use."

And, with something of a clamour for Jermain Defoe to be given a chance to be promoted from the U21s to the full squad, Alvin says:

"Who knows what he can achieve; he has surprised everybody with the progress he has made and I think it has been excellent management by Glenn not to push him too hard.

"When someone shows such undeniable ability and the mentality to cope with performing at first team and international level you just let him have his head to a certain degree.

"He has come through the toughest part with the expectation level and people saying he is going to do this or that.

"Glenn has held him back, let him feel his way, and this year he will show that the more you ask of him the more he will deliver.

"He is just a natural and if you look at the goals that he scores they are all different types - tap-ins, spectacular goals, headers, left foot and right foot...and he has got pace, intelligence, and a willingness to learn.

"That has got to be important because a lot of people since Glenn took over feel that the coaching side of things at West Ham has benefited the young players like Joe, Michael and Jermain.

"Hopefully he can continue now this season is underway and hopefully we will see some of the younger players improving in terms of not just quality but maturity as well."