Graeme Souness urged England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson to take David Dunn to the World Cup – if David Beckham failed to overcome his injury – following Rovers’ 0-0 draw with Chelsea on this day in 2002.

Beckham’s World Cup dream was hanging by a thread after the midfielder broke a bone in his foot during Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final triumph over Deportivo La Coruna, leading to fears he would not be fit in time to lead England’s World Cup bid in Japan.

And Souness felt Rovers midfielder Dunn could be the man to come to England’s international rescue, even though the homegrown midfielder had yet to be tried and tested at that level.

“He is very different to David Beckham, but I am his manager and I am not going to say ‘No, he shouldn’t go’,” said Souness.

“But I know David Dunn will play for England, whether it is this World Cup or the next World Cup – he will be a World Cup player for England.

“I would suggest I have seen a change in David in the last couple of months. He is now less likely to try schoolyard stuff. He has learned not to be a tricky trickster.

“He has learned to be a proper midfield player and, if I was Sven, I would give him a go because he has certainly got the ability in the last third of the field that very few players have.

“He has natural strength, he can get up and down the park and he can pass a ball accurately.

“But what he has, and I can’t think of another England midfield player, is in that last third he can take people on and make things happen.

“So, yes, Sven should take him.”

Eriksson had hinted at a possible call-up for Dunn ahead of England’s recent friendlies against Holland and Italy but injuries meant he could not be considered for selection.

Souness’ comments came after Rovers edged a step nearer Premiership safety after gaining an impressive point from a battling 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Ewood.

Souness was delighted with the way his players applied themselves against a Blues side chasing a Champions League spot, and with a little more composure in front of goal on the night, felt they could even have gone on to take all three points.

“I thought the whole team were fiercely determined not to lose that game and if we can play like that in our next five games then we’ll be fine,” said Souness.

“It’s very hard to say who was man of the match in that team performance because that’s exactly what it was, a great team performance.

“I’d like to think our supporters went home happy because they got value for money and saw their team have a real go for them.

“So it was very pleasing and I’m just disappointed we didn’t get the three points.

“On another night, we might have won it but I think we have to be happy overall because this was a big point for us.”

That result meant Rovers opened up a three point gap between themselves and third-from-bottom Ipswich, with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

Souness, however, was still refusing to count his chickens, insisting he wanted at least two more wins to be certain of safety.

“We’ll see how important this point is in terms of the bigger picture in a few weeks’ time,” he added.

“We are now effectively four points clear when you take into account our better goal difference which means Ipswich now have to take something from two of their remaining four games.”

“But we are banking on them picking up more than two results so we’ve got to be professional and think that we are going to have to win another two or three games.”

“Until other things change, that’s got to be our attitude.

“We’ve got five games left and if we win two of those then I think that will be enough. But let’s enjoy this point because it was a good one as they are a top team.”