Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has backed Michael Dawson to make a late bid to be part of Fabio Capello's England squad for South Africa next year.
Dawson was on standby for the last World Cup but did not travel to Germany under Sven-Goran Eriksson and has not been capped despite call-ups to the squad from Steve McClaren. The 26-year-old has seized his opportunity following injuries to Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate, with Redknapp even giving him the captain's armband when Robbie Keane has been on the bench.
"Michael's been in great form, he's showing England form," Redknapp said. "In the form he's in at the moment, he could well break into the England squad. For me he's been absolutely fantastic. There's not too many centre-halves in the country playing better than Michael at the moment."
He added: "He's a leader, good in the air, a great defender and can pass it. I certainly think if any player was going to force their way in he is a possibility."
While King and Woodgate were playing regularly last season, Dawson's future looked uncertain. Even recently he was linked with Sunderland but Redknapp insisted: "Not a chance, no."
There are parallels with the season Dawson almost went to the World Cup, as Spurs were in pole position for a Champions League place during that campaign.
They famously slipped up on the last day when they lost to West Ham after a norovirus hit the squad, with Dawson one of the players sick the night before the Upton Park defeat.
This time around they are fifth heading into Christmas and face Fulham on Boxing Day followed by West Ham two days later.
"I'm not saying we can get top four but we can keep trying for it," Redknapp said. "I'm happy with the squad, there's a good atmosphere here, good players. There's seven or eight teams scrabbling around for the top four, there are maybe one or two up for grabs.
"Everyone is capable this year of picking up results and everyone is working hard, the standard is levelling out, teams at the bottom can pick up big wins. There are no easy games, teams are scrapping hard and picking up points."
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