Accrington Stanley defender urged to chase international dream

First published in Football Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

ACCRINGTON Stanley are likely to field three full internationals once more tomorrow, and Leam Richardson has told Toto Nsiala to keep striving for an appearance at a major tournament one day – even if he misses out on January’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The Reds are in the rare position of having three players on their books who have played at senior international level as they prepare to travel to fellow mid-table side Burton Albion in League Two tomorrow, in a game put back a day to avoid a clash with a home fixture for Derby County.

James Beattie featured five times for England, while Rommy Boco has 42 caps for Benin.

Nsiala made his debut for the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and revealed then that his ambition was to appear in the tournament this season, as well as the 2014 World Cup.

Unlike Benin, DR Congo did qualify for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and still have a chance of reaching the World Cup. But 20-year-old Nsiala has not been called up since that single appearance in the summer.

The squad for the tournament is yet to be named but if the centre back does miss out this time Richardson believes he can still progress on the international scene in the years to come.

“As a player you should always try to get to that top level so if that’s an incentive that Toto can achieve, that would be great,” said the Reds boss, who recently recalled Nsiala to the starting line-up.

“As a professional you want to play as high as you can and if he can play in the Africa Cup of Nations for Congo, it can only be a good experience for him.”

Nsiala made his Stanley debut at Burton 11 months ago, when he helped the Reds win 2-0 but ended up in hospital after a clash of heads. Richardson is sure the 6ft 4in defender has real potential but knows he has areas to improve.

“Toto has got fantastic pot-ential, he has got all the tools that a centre half needs,” said Richardson. “But in the same respect he has got a lot of learning to do and until he gets that balance he needs to learn a lot first.

“He has got the potential but without putting the hard work in, you’re not going to get there as any type of player. If Toto gets his head down he could end up being a top centre half. To have three internationals here proves how hard we are working and where we are trying to be as a club.”

Right back Dean Winnard serves a one-match ban tomorrow after picking up five bookings. Former Stanley loanee Billy Kee could feature up front for Burton.

Reds keeper Ian Dunbavin had successful shoulder surgery on Thursday.

Stanley (possible): Paul Rachubka; Craig Lindfield, Toto Nsiala, Peter Murphy, Michael Liddle; Rommy Boco, Luke Joyce, George Miller, Lee Molyneux; Padraig Amond, James Beattie.

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