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Glen can make place his own; England icon Cohen hands it to Johnson.


ENGLAND World Cup winner George Cohen believes Fabio Capello has more or less settled on his defence for South Africa - and believes Liverpool's Glen Johnson can make the right-back slot his own.

Cohen, who turns 70 later this month, was part of Sir Alf Ramsey's backline alongside legendary captain Bobby Moore, Jack Charlton and Ray Wilson.

The former Fulham defender believes a solid rearguard is key to success at next summer's finals.

"Fabio Capello has still got to bring some more players into his squad, but he should know what his defence is now," said Cohen.

"Alf Ramsey had the same situation -the defence was marked out nine months before the World Cup finals, which was tried out against very good teams.

"We beat West Germany twice, Portugal, Spain, all those top teams before we actually won the World Cup, playing with a defence which was settled."

Much has been made of whether Johnson, 25, is up to the task at international level.

The full-back, who left Portsmouth for Anfield in a pounds 17million summer move, has at times been caught out of position when linking up with the England attack.

Cohen believes the former West Ham trainee can be a potent weapon going forwards - but should not forget his main duties at the other end.

"Johnson has got a lot to think about," reflected Cohen.

"He has got to get forward, and he is pretty good at that, he has got good distribution is fast and strong.

"Perhaps his positional play is not what it should be, but he should be learning all this right up until the day you finish playing football.

"As a youngster, I was taught through the old 'WM' formation, where you swivelled around just one centre-half, in whatever situation.

"But you go back, up, over and across as a team, keeping width and depth.

"Johnson does get caught out occasionally, but he will learn and learn very fast."

Cohen added: "The idea is to make sure the ball is in front of you and make sure you know where your man is.

"You are a defender first, and if an attack breaks down because of you, you are responsible and have to get back. Johnson is strong enough and powerful enough to do that.

"But why put yourself in that situation in the first place? That is the difference.

"I think he will learn and has got some time yet."

Capello has tried Manchester United's Wes Brown on the right side of defence, but Cohen feels Johnson now has the chance to establish himself in the role.

"Brown does not do bad there, but he is not necessarily a right full-back, so I think this kid Johnson will be okay."


during training ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2009
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