England manager Roy Hodgson has branded Tottenham midfielder Tom Carroll as “an outstanding footballer”.
Hodgson has seen the youngster at close quarters while working with the Under-21 squad. And he singled the 21-year-old out for praise to illustrate a point he was making about Rickie Lambert.
The Southampton striker has been misjudged throughout his career because he lacked blistering pace, claims Hodgson. He thinks many people in football, including himself, have failed to look past Lambert’s lower league targetman looks to see how good he actually is.
And he thinks Carroll might also become a victim of people judging a book by its cover.
He said: “In football we go down roads sometimes and say ‘This is what a centre-forward should look like’. Sometimes we forget that you can still be a good centre-forward or right-back or centre-half without having those qualities.
“Let’s take a classic example, if we were looking at Bobby Moore today and saying ‘What has our centre-half got to be like?’ we’d say: ‘He has to be very athletic, very fast, very quick on the turn and recovery and come out with the ball from the back and beat people’. A lot of people would say ‘He can’t do this, that and the other’.
“Perhaps in the past we were [more] kind. The great Tottenham team with Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower, there were lots of things they couldn’t do. But there were things they could do and we admired them and built them up for the things they could do. Sometimes I think we are a bit quick to say, ‘Well, he is not quick enough not big enough strong enough.’
“The boy Tom Carroll is an example for me. In the Under-21s, I worked with him for a week and saw him play and he is an outstanding footballer. But people say he is very slight, he’s not very big, he’s not strong. That’s what we tend to do these days.
“Perhaps Rickie is someone who has come into that category. They have watched him and then found a fault, ie he can’t run like Theo Walcott.”