England winger Aaron Lennon admits he is under pressure to deliver consistently after staking his claim for a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with his performance against Croatia.
When he got Fabio Capello's men off to a flying start at Wembley the 22-year-old appeared to front of the queue for the right-flank position but he knows Theo Walcott will return from injury and David Beckham is established back in the squad.
Shaun Wright-Phillips is also in top form for Manchester City, so Lennon is expecting a real fight to get on the plane to South Africa. "Of course, that comes with being at international level and playing with the best players," the Tottenham winger said. "There are so many quality players within the squad and so many not even here. When you have your chance you have to take it. Shauny Wright has played great recently so just to get the nod was brilliant for me."
He can be as good as he wants to be. He can be an absolute world beater. When he plays like he did in that game, no-one can touch him and we are fortunate that we have got a few players with that same sort of ability.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp can take plenty of credit for getting the best out of Lennon, who always had ferocious pace but was tactically raw. Redknapp got the former Leeds player to confuse full-backs early on in games - he would run behind them and on to through-balls at first, then come deep to collect the ball and dribble. The result was defenders being caught in two minds whether to get tight.
"I've been trying to mix my game up. It is down to experience and looking at how defenders have been trying to mark me out of a game," he said. "I've been mixing everything - trying different types of crosses, cutting inside and shooting with my left, going outside. Just mixing it up."
Lennon has played in four English Premier League wins in a row for Spurs - and is now celebrating his greatest moment so far for England. "I started well this season with my club form so I just wanted to continue that in the national team," he said. "Luckily for me I did that. It was probably my best performance for England. And the performance from the team was up there. There was a lot of talk before the game but we kept focused and did it on the pitch."
It was a long time coming for Lennon. He was taken to the last FIFA World Cup and was expected to replace Beckham on the right wing immediately afterwards. It never happened, with accusations of lacking a final product to match his pace - but his form over the last six months suggests he is maturing.
"What I'd give for just a little of that pace," Beckham said. "Aaron is an exceptional player. When he's played for England in the past he has always done well. He's performing well for Tottenham and has played really well in training for the 10 days. He deserved his chance and he has taken his chance."
Skipper John Terry noticed Lennon's all-round game contributing to the 5-1 victory, not just his role in the goals. "It's given him a boost," Terry said. "There is the attacking side of it but he also helped the defence and Glen Johnson by tracking back and he kept their left-back where we wanted him."
Frank Lampard, meanwhile, is backing Lennon to be "a world beater". The Chelsea man said: "He can be as good as he wants to be. He can be an absolute world beater. When he plays like he did in that game, no-one can touch him and we are fortunate that we have got a few players with that same sort of ability. You can't beat having pace and people who can beat people like Aaron did on this occasion."
Lennon is now confident England can win all 10 of their qualifiers after victory in their first eight. "We want to win every game and do not want to come out of this run," the winger said. "Winning games is a great feeling, and we want to continue to win all the games in the group - and I do not see why we cannot do that."