Former Leeds coach: New England star could go 'right to the top'

Three Lions Wembley

Fabian Delph’s former Academy coach Greg Abbott has admitted his surprise that it took the England debutant so long to make an international impact.

Abbott was the man who enticed Delph to Elland Road as an 11-year old in 2001, and he watched with pride as the now Aston Villa man made his full international debut with an impressive performance in England’s 2-0 victory over Switzerland.

Having progressed at a rapid rate through the academy system, the 24-year old midfielder burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2008, winning enough plaudits to be crowned the League One Young Player of the Year in 2009, as well as being named the Whites Players’ Player and Young Player of the Year in the same season.

His breakthrough season was marked with a call up to the England Under-21 fold, and it didn’t take long for the Premier League to come calling - with the youngster agreeing an £8 million move to Villa in Augsust 2009.

His form at Villa Park failed to find consistency, and a lengthy injury lay-off ruined much of his second season. However, since prospering under current manager Paul Lambert, Abbott has expressed his belief that he always knew Delph would reach the top of the game.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, the former Leeds man said: “I am surprised that it took so long for Fabian to be around the England squad.

“But I think that when he went to Villa, he had a nasty injury that set him back quite a way.

“But like Aaron Lennon, he was one you always felt would go right to the top.

“Now Fabian has got in through his performances for Paul, I think he can go on from strength to strength.

“He gives the team ‘legs’ and bite and can help put that drive into the England team which has been lacking. The commentators summed his performance up perfectly on Monday.

“I think he had a nervous start where he tried too hard to impress, but then calmed down and got into the game and I thought he was magnificent.

“I watched the game with Shaun Derry and we both felt he was close to being man of the match, although maybe we are a bit biased. But I do think Fabian can become a regular as he provides balance being a left-sider.”

The current Notts County assistant manager also believes that Delph has found his form at the perfect time, with a guaranteed first-team spot in the England midfield there for the taking.

“It is a great time for up and coming England players as the ‘big boys’ like Frank Lampard, John Terry and Steven Gerrard have had their time and now the door is open for the younger players to come and stake a claim.

“If he keeps his feet on the ground, there is every chance he might do that.”

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