Walcott can be Engand's 'ace in the hole' - Gerrard

May 11, 2006

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has taken time out from preparing for the FA Cup final to insist that England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson 'isn't crazy' to have picked 17-year-old Theo Walcott for the World Cup.

Gerrard claims Walcott could be 'England's ace in the pack' but admits that he was surprised at some of the names when the party for Germany was announced this week.

Gerrard will lead Liverpool into their final domestic game of a gruelling season against West Ham in Saturday's final in Cardiff, before turning his own attention to the World Cup campaign.

And Gerrard backs Eriksson's judgement in naming teenage sensation Walcott.

Gerrard says: 'I don't think the gaffer is crazy, Walcott could be the ace in the pack. Nobody knows anything about him, but we all know he is a fantastic player with tremendous speed.

'If he gets thrown in at the deep end during the World Cup he may just surprise a few people and come up with a couple of winning goals, you never know.'

But Gerrard added: 'I am not going to say I was not surprised at some of the names in the squad, because we have not seen much of them.

'But they are very exciting players, and if we can get Wayne (Rooney) fit and Michael (Owen) fit it is a very exciting squad.

'But if you look at the squad as a whole then the 23 are really strong.

'Being England's manager you are paid to take risks and have a gamble now and again, he has accepted it is a gamble but hopefully it pays off.'

And Gerrard reveals he is more than happy to play in a more advanced role for England, with the prospect that both Owen and Rooney may not make the finals.

He said: 'Right through my career I have been asked to play different roles and I would like to think that I can adapt. So if Sven wants to use me in a more attacking role I will give it everything I have got.

'I have scored a lot of goals this season and that is because I am playing a more attacking role for Liverpool. I have found my form and I am enjoying my football and happy playing further forward.

'But we will have to wait and see what Sven's ideas are, it may well be different roles for different games but I would love to give it a go in a more attacking role.

'England looks pretty exciting, we can change the formation to play five in midfield. You can have me, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard all bombing forward but I am not the manager, I have to turn up and wait to see what he wants and then give it my all when he decides what to do.'

Liverpool's only injury doubt for the final is midfielder Xabi Alonso who is battling to recover from a twisted ankle.

The Spaniard hasn't trained this week but boss Rafael Benitez reveals that he will have a make or break session today before a decision is made over his fitness for the final.