Glenn: Joe Getting Better All The Time

Glenn Roeder feels that the experience Joe Cole is getting in several positions at Upton Park will lead to him becoming the complete midfielder.

Glenn is looking forward to seeing his England players in action at Villa Park at the weekend, though it may be that the two outfielders have to content themselves with a place on the bench initially.

"I am very hopeful that David James will get an opportunity to stake his claim to the number one shirt and that both Trevor and Joe get a start as well," says Glenn.

"But if they don't, then hopefully they will get on from the bench and win another cap.

"Joe in particular, although we haven't started the season at all well, is not to be faulted in any way whatsoever - he has started the season exceptionally well."

Joe himself eventually favours settling into a central midfield role, but knows that for club or country, he is not yet in a position to pick or choose.

"Because of the small squad we have to operate with we don't pin him down to just one position, and that is the experience he gained with us last year," says Glenn.

"He gets the opportunity to play in different places and, including the game as a secondary striker he has played in four positions with us in the last 12 months - both wide positions left and right, centre midfield, which I know he really enjoys, and the striking role.

"In the big picture that has got to help his football education, though admittedly I think he will end up carving a niche for himself in centre midfield.

"I really feel he has got enough in his game to be a central midfield player and that includes the defensive work as well.

"Just now we are playing him off the right side; we don't expect him to play as an out and out wide player, though - he is not that sort of midfield player, and never will be.

"He comes in and can get in those dangerous positions between the midfield and the opposing defence, and if we can get the ball to Joe there, attacking defenders, he can cause all sorts of problems for the opposition.

"He is learning all the time and he will be the first to admit himself he is far from the finished player - how could he be at 20?

"There is no player at that age who is, and I don't think you ever stop learning.

"At 26 or 27, though, you can consider yourself to have learnt enough about the game to have enough experience to deal with most situations.

"He is on an upward learning curve and if this season's experience is anything to go by he is learning rapidly now.

"As good as he has been before he is looking even better at the moment and we need to keep him in this rich vein of form because in the next few fixtures we really need him to produce for us and help us pick up some winning performances."

Glenn has not set Joe, young as he is, a deadline for becoming a central midfielder yet, and he explains:

"We will wait and see; I am sure he will play plenty of games in centre midfield this year as I am sure he will play both wide positions.

"We have to have versatile players with such a small squad, and fortunately we have several players that can play other positions.

"We all know everyone has their favourite position, but it is a case of having a great attitude and playing where your manager asks you to."

Joe has - deliberately - put on around half a stone over the summer, and Glenn says the growing has not stopped.

"It is natural physical development; I'm sure there is another 18 months of growing and strengthening up in him, and ultimately that will help him," he insists.

"We have seen a big difference in Joe Cole in the last couple of months.

"As soon as he came back following his short holiday away with his family we noticed the difference and he looked like he had moved on a level or two.

"And he has continued that in the matches, putting in three very decent performances despite a disappointing start to the campaign."

Glenn says that the pressure he has been under, since even long before he turned professional, has been immense - and that only a person of his maturity could have coped with it.

"I am adamant that no player has ever come into the game under such a spotlight; the Michael Owens and Steven Gerrards certainly came into Liverpool's first team with big big reputations but I don't think that even those two brilliant young players have had to suffer, if you want, under the huge spotlight that Joe Cole came into the game under," he claims.

"I still vividly remember him being on the front page of a Sunday tabloid - and he was 14.

"It was about the alleged salary he was supposedly going to be earning when he started playing for West Ham, and that cannot be good for any young player - it must have a detrimental effect to start with.

"But he came through that, and did so with flying colours; he lives with it now and almost expects it.

"At times he puts so much pressure on himself because of the expectation everyone else puts on him, and I think that has hindered him a little bit.

"But he is handling it really well, and I expect Joe Cole to have a really great season."

Glenn is delighted Joe has got off the scoresheet so quickly this season, after he didn't manage a single league goal in the last campaign.

"He is very conscious of the need to score goals - and create them," he says.

"He has already got off the mark against Arsenal with a great goal and the signs were already looking good in preseason.

"He tucked away a couple of goals then, so he has already put away three.

"There is no reason he shouldn't score goals and he works very hard at his finishing in training.

"He is one of those that always likes to do shooting at the end of a session and his technique is improving all the time..."