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Alex James column: Robinson can be World Cup wildcard
AT first glance an England call-up for a goalkeeper who has barely played over the past two seasons beacuse of a blood clot on the lung does sound a bit crazy.
When you throw in the fact that he is officially retired from international football and is playing in the second tier of English football then the chances of Paul Robinson making Roy Hodgson's squad for the final 23 to board the plane to Brazil this summer look slim.
But then you start to consider the facts and perhaps, just perhaps, Robinson is among the best for the job.
England do not have a depth of talent vying for the goalkeeping jersey. Behind Joe Hart, who will travel as undisputed No.1, there is a plethora of keepers trying to force their way onto the plane.
At the head of that queue is Ben Foster at West Brom. Like Robinson he had retired from international football but Hodgson gave him a second chance and he took it. The same could quite conceivably happen to Robinson should the England boss pick up the phone.
Foster looks set for that back-up slot but the third keeper is like picking the bonus ball in the lottery.
Fraser Forster, John Ruddy, Robert Green, Alex McCarthy and Jack Butland have all been in recent squads and Robinson's biggest competition will come from the former two.
Forster has been in impressive form for Celtic this season making a string of fine saves in Champions League games and playing his part in Celtic’s cruise towards the title.
But it is Scottish football. And with the greatest respect in the world, the Championship is probably a tougher week-in, week-out place to play football.
Ruddy is at least playing in the Premier League with Norwich but he has not had a sparkling season as the Canaries have struggled at the wrong end of the table.
A case could be made for either.
But, what could clinch it for Robinson is his experience.
And that’s where Robinson has the advantage.
He has played in a World Cup, he was part of the 2006 squad in Germany, and he knows the pressure that comes with being an England international – think of that Gary Neville backpass that rolled over his flailing foot in Croatia.
If anyone can come through that and live to fight another day then they must have plenty of thick skin.
When Hodgson comes to pick his squad he knows that, barring a disaster, the third choice goalkeeper is going to spend every game sitting behind him on the bench.
Robinson is perfect to come along and help Hart and Foster in training, offer them advice about everything from being away from home to preparing for group games.
Neither of those two has played a single minute of World Cup football before. Robinson has played 480 minutes plus a penalty shoot out and kept four clean sheets.
He can travel almost as a member of the coaching staff.
Through his time at Rovers we have seen that he speaks well and professionaly with the knowledge of a man who has spent more than a decade at the top of the sport.
That experience could be crucial in more ways than we know off the field.
When you put all those ingredients into the mix, suddenly it is not as easy to call me crazy.
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