Talk of an England call-up for Aaron Cresswell, but the West Ham player almost signed for Fulham
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There’s talk that a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad is not far away, but it could have been a different story for Aaron Cresswell had Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy not intervened in the summer.
Released by boyhood club Liverpool as a 15-year-old, the left-back joined League One side Tranmere Rovers and has not stopped climbing the ladder since.
Paul Jewell brought him to Portman Road for a initial tribunal-decided fee of £240,000, he got better and better during three seasons in the Championship and, after being named the division’s best player for his position last season, made a £3.75m switch to West Ham.
It’s another step up that he has taken very much in his stride, a string of impressive Premier League displays for the high-flying Hammers leading to debate that a senior international call may not be far away.
And yet the 24-year-old would have still been a second-tier player, with recently-relegated Fulham, had it not been for a McCarthy phone call.
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“I’m so happy for Cressy,” said the Blues boss. “It looked like he was going to Fulham so I rang Sam (Allardyce, West Ham boss) up and said ‘are you still interested?’ I knew they had been, because they’d been watching him and we’d spoken about Cressy previously, but maybe he wasn’t aware that a move was looking imminent.
“Of course Cressy wanted to play in the Premier League – and I thought he should. He’s now proving that was the right decision.
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“I’m glad he’s doing well because he’s such a great lad. He was totally low maintenance. Low maintenance, high class – that’s what he was. He’s a proper lad, he doesn’t cause any aggravation.
“I went to watch West Ham Under-21s against Man Utd recently and they all said he’s doing great. I’m really pleased.
“I think they got a bargain when you consider all the money that is spent on players these days.”
The recent call-up of Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne to the England squad, at the age of 23 following many years previously in the Football League, gives hope to the likes of Cresswell.
Asked about the prospect of international selection, he said: “Of course, there’s always a chance for every English player who’s playing well in the Premier League but I’m not looking too much into that. I just want to play my best and play as many games as I can and get my head down and see where it takes me.”
Everton’s Leighton Baines is currently England’s first choice left-back, with Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs (25) and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw (19) behind him in the pecking order.
Blues boss McCarthy rather swerved the question when asked whether he felt an international call-up was in the offing for Cresswell. When it was put to him that ‘we have a number of good left-backs in this country at present’ the Yorkshire-born, former Republic of Ireland defender and manager quipped: “Have we? Who’s ‘we’? I’m thinking more about Stephen Ward and the left-backs Ireland have got!”