Kieron gets the World Cup call

FORMER Ipswich Town ace Kieron Dyer will be going to the World Cup finals.Dyer – today named in Sven Goran Eriksson's 23-man squad – at last has the world at his decidedly nimble feet.

FORMER Ipswich Town ace Kieron Dyer will be going to the World Cup finals.

Dyer – today named in Sven Goran Eriksson's 23-man squad – at last has the world at his decidedly nimble feet.

The inclusion of the Ipswich-born discovery in Eriksson's party brought a satisfactory end to a year punctuated by gruelling fightbacks and the very real fear Dyer's body would not allow him to pursue his World Cup dream.

The memory of the injury problems which kept him out of the reckoning for the Euro 2000 finals still stings, and further heartache for the Newcastle star who is still to reach his 24th birthday would have left a huge psychological scar.

But having safely negotiated the initial hurdles which lay in his path – fitness and selection – he now faces the task of proving that, not only is he good enough to play for his country, but that he is good enough to play on the biggest stage and against the best teams and reproduce the form which has earned him his call-up.

Dyer's rich talent has never been in any doubt since he first burst on to the scene at Portman Road as a teenager.

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Fleet of both foot and mind, he has an uncanny ability to unlock defences and a seemingly endless reserve of energy which allows him to turn up the heat just when his opponents are starting to hurt.

But it is at Newcastle that he has started to fulfil the potential in which former manager Ruud Gullit invested £6million in the summer of 1999.

United's competitors baulked at the asking price, but Gullit, whose other acquisitions in the main were less than successful on Tyneside, was convinced he was worth every penny.

The Dutchman has been proved correct to the extent that his successor, Bobby Robson, has spent much of the last year fending off claims that a host of clubs, including Manchester United and Leeds, at home and abroad were preparing bids of anywhere up to £25m to lure him away from St James' Park.

Robson has insisted since arriving at the club that Dyer should be one of the rocks upon which he builds a brighter future, and United's stunning form this season has simply strengthened that resolve.

And the former England boss is convinced the mercurial midfielder can do a job for his country – and perhaps do it as well as the 23-year-old he took to the 1990 World Cup finals, Paul Gascoigne.

Gazza himself is certain that a man every Englishman hopes can follow in his footsteps will make the grade.

"He's got all the qualities to be a huge star," he said recently.

"Kieron is fit again at long last and if he's given the opportunity, he will be discovered by world football because that's the sort of ability he has.

"I can see a lot of similarities to me when I first made an impression – he's a kid who lives for playing football and it shines through in his game."

Eriksson retained a measure of experience as Arsenal veteran Martin Keown was picked alongside youngsters Dyer, Joe Cole and Wes Brown.

He did not take a gamble on uncapped Blackburn striker Matt Jansen, preferring to keep faith with Robbie Fowler and Teddy Sheringham, while also picking Darius Vassell.

He turned to Keown as his final selection, preferring the 35-year-old's experience as one of eight defenders, also including 23-year-old Brown, Wayne Bridge and Danny Mills.

Midfielder Nicky Butt was included along with captain David Beckham despite an injury doubt, with Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy placed on standby.

While 20-year-old Cole is selected as Eriksson's "fantasy" player ahead of West Ham team-mate Trevor Sinclair, Keown is picked for his experience.

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