Teenage talent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can go on to take the European Championships by storm.
That is the verdict of Ray Crawford following the Portsmouth-born youngster’s performance in England’s 1-1 draw with France yesterday.
The former St John’s College pupil was a surprise selection on the left-hand side of Roy Hodgson’s midfield in Donetsk.
But he responded with a mature and highly-encouraging display in his 77 minutes on the pitch as England secured a deserved point.
For Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was a third international appearance – and in the process he became the third-youngest player in England’s history to feature at a major tournament.
In terms of Portsmouth, he has joined the select band of Reg Flewin, Peter Harris, Steve Foster and Crawford as players who hail from the city who have gone on to represent England.
And Crawford – who picked up two England caps and scored one goal – was impressed with the youngster’s impact against France.
He said: ‘They say you have to be prepared to work really hard if you want to be a winger in Roy Hodgson’s teams.
‘Well, that’s what Alex did, just tucking in there.
‘He was very controlled and stuck to the instructions of the manager. But the lad has plenty of energy and ability.
‘You could see he wanted to get forward and that’s what I expect him to start doing more and making more of an impact.
‘I actually thought France were a bit brutal on him at times in the way they brought him down and should have got booked.
‘He got on with it, though. Nothing bothered him.
‘In fact, a couple of times he got near the edge of the box and with a bit more experience, he would have tried to get a shot in rather than look to pass.
‘At one point in the first half he was confident enough to drop his shoulder, beat two people and then lay the ball to Ashley Young, who was offside.
‘I would have liked him to have used Young as a decoy and had a go himself.
‘That will come with age and experience, though. I am sure of that.
‘For me, Young overall looked timid, which is what you would have expected Alex to be – but he certainly wasn’t.
‘I just cannot believe how strong, mature and confident the lad is for his age. Even in the post-match interview he was composed and came out with sensible answers.
‘There is so much more from this lad – in this tournament and in what will be a long England career.’
The result puts England in a good position heading into Friday night’s match against Sweden.
The Swedes lost their opening group game to the Ukraine 2-1 last night – Andriy Shevchenko scoring twice in the second half.
And Crawford believes England deserved their point.
He said: ‘I thought England were good enough to get a draw.
‘France had a lot of the ball but couldn’t break us down.
‘It was a good, entertaining game and I think everyone should be encouraged.
‘France are no mugs, they have plenty of good players and are a team who haven’t been beaten now for 22 games.’