Steven Gerrard believes Manchester City winger Adam Johnson has "a fantastic chance" of being part of England's squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The 22-year-old was named in Fabio Capello's initial 30-player party, which will be trimmed down to a final 23 on 1 June, after the friendly internationals against Mexico at Wembley tonight and Japan in Graz on 30 May.
Johnson impressed when part of England's training camp in Austria, after exciting Capello during the second half of the campaign at Eastlands. The former Middlesbrough man is expected to play at least some part against Mexico, and has caught the eye of Gerrard.
"Adam has looked fantastic in training," said the 29-year-old. "He is a typical left-winger, he gets good crosses into the box, and is exciting on the ball.
"We will have to wait and see what players Fabio goes with in the final 23. But I am sure Adam has got a fantastic chance of going to the World Cup because he is a very talented player."
Gerrard expresses Ballack sympathy
Gerrard is fully focused on helping England to achieve glory in South Africa, but took time out to express sympathy for Michael Ballack, who will miss the tournament through injury. It brought back memories for the Liverpool captain of being forced out of Korea/Japan 2002.
"I do feel sorry for Michael Ballack. I know exactly how he is feeling," said Gerrard. "Back in 2002, I experienced an injury and wasn't able to take part (in the World Cup).
"One of the worse things that can happen to you as a footballer is missing a World Cup. We know the Germans are very strong, have good players, and I am sure they can cope without him. But he is a fantastic player and will be missed."