Chris Coleman fervently believes Zat Knight has all the qualities to be a top-class international defender.
The 6ft 6in centre-half has won rave reviews for his commanding performances for Fulham and although Sven-Goran Eriksson says he could virtually name his Euro 2004 squad already he admitted Knight was “still in with a chance” of a surprise call-up.
Coleman has no doubts about Knight’s ability to cut it at the highest level. “He has got great qualities as a defender. He’s only young, 23, but he’s good on the ball, quick and good in the air. He’s improved considerably this season,” said Fulham’s manager
And Coleman believes there is a lot more to come from Knight, who was bizarrely signed from non-League Rushall Olympic for 30 tracksuits four years ago.
“He has to learn to play at a consistent level for 90 minutes,” Coleman said. “We want him to defend for the entire game. He’s not quite the finished article. In another three or four years in top-flight football, he will be a real player. I’m sure he will play for England”
Knight impressed the England hierarchy at Under-21 level with his touch and passing ability.
On Saturday, he set up Fulham’s second goal against Leeds with an expertly volleyed cross to Luis Boa Morte and the previous week he hit the bar with an audacious 35-yard strike against Manchester United.
Coleman added: “Things like that are great but we want him to be a defender first and foremost. If he can score and set up goals as well, that’s a bonus.”