Tony: Joe Should Start

Tony Gale believes that David James will hold onto England's number one spot despite the renewed threat from David Seaman following his move to Manchester City - and he thinks that Joe Cole should start against Slovakia next week.

And, with Steve Bywater, Glen Johnson, and Jermain Defoe all getting another game in the under-21s this week - in the case of a Jermain, a full game with a goal to boot - Tony reckons it has been a useful week for the Hammers' young stars.

"It was a good run out for those three and the more experience they get the better; it is just great having everyone involved both with the U21s and the senior squad," he says.

"Steve has really been the forgotten man with David James, a big, high profile goalkeeper and Raimond van der Gouw with all of his experience as number two.

"But hopefully he will come to the fore a little bit, and you never know, his chance could come sooner rather than later."

As for the Joe Cole debate, following his match-winning goal against Serbia and Montenegro, Tony is adamant that Joe should be playing the full game, not coming on as a substitute, which he has done in nine of his 10 England appearances.

"I can't understand why Joe is not starting in the full team; with David Beckham missing I think he is a must," says Tony.

"I was a little bit disappointed to hear people saying in the week that he is a great substitute and he can maybe change a game.

"Joe Cole has been playing brilliantly, particularly in the second half of the season, in a relegation side.

"Put him in an England side surrounded by better players and I think he will be different class.

"He was really under the spotlight coming on for just a part of the game and obviously he got a lot of the headlines because of the goal, but look at his other contribution.

"He goes past players and he is a strong running boy now. He is cutting out the tricks a bit which I like and I love to see him ghosting past players a la Alan Devonshire.

"For me he should be starting, but not in Paul Scholes' role as they are talking about; he is better when he comes from deep and if you had seen him every game as we did people would realise that.

"People are terming Joe as a bit of a maverick and saying he is a bit of a liability in a 4-4-2, but last season towards the end he was playing in a 4-3-3 and did his defensive duties as well.

"So for me, in the England diamond system, he should either be on the left or the right side alongside Steven Gerrard who is going to be on the other side of it."

Joe's goal was a nice way to celebrate the fact that the police had stated their intention to take no further action against him and Rufus Brevett following allegations made concerning events in the tunnel at the Reebok stadium following the 1-0 defeat at Bolton late in the season, and Tony insists: "I think it was a lot about nothing; there were a few fracas after the game and there were a few Bolton players that got away with it, I might add, as well - I was at the game and I saw what went on.

"I didn't see what happened in the tunnel but I think a lot is made of these situations at the moment; you can understand the boys' anger as that looked, on the day, as being the result that sent us down.

"You can imagine tempers being frayed and obviously if anyone was in the way they were going to get a little bit of stick - but that is all part of the game."

As for David James and the England place - he has now started five on the trot for the national side - Tony believes that David Seaman's move to Manchester City, and the chance of prolonging his career in the Premiership there, will no adversely affect David James' chances.

"I think our David is a better goalie now, without a doubt. David Seaman is going to have a lot more to do next season and I think you will see how David Seaman copes in a struggling side like David James had to do himself last season," he says.

"It is okay playing in championship sides but when you are up against it week in week out it is different.

"Jamo had a poor start to the season, and that was by his own admission as well with a few costly errors, but I would say in the second half of the season he did really well.

"I hope they all stay but someone is going to have to be sold and the club is right to bide their time and assess what offers come in for the players, but I hope we can keep them all - with Jamo being one of them."