Mensah: Turner to play for England
Apr 21 2010 by Stuart Rayner, The Journal
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JOHN Mensah has told Michael Turner he can play for England if only he believes it. And the Ghana captain hopes he will still be at Sunderland to see it happen.
Mensah has been a revelation in the Sunderland matches he has been fit for, causing Turner to describe the “world-class” 27-year-old as the best defender he has played alongside.
Mensah has joined the mutual appreciation society by telling Turner, who this week returns to former club Hull City in the Premier League, he too can play international football.
“I’ve played with many players and Michael Turner impresses me because he is strong and aggressive,” said Mensah, who is on loan from Champions League semi-finalists Lyon.
“All the other players are good as well but he’s the one (centre-back) I’ve played with most.
“We have a good understanding and he’s very, very strong and intelligent as well. I believe he can play in any team he wants.
“I believe one day he will play for his national team because he is a very good player.
“I just think he needs more motivation to believe he can do it.”
Whether Mensah will be back in tandem with the 26-year-old next season remains to be seen.
The outstanding performances from a player know as the “Rock of Gibraltar”mean manager Steve Bruce would love to make his season-long loan permanent.
But his dreadful injury problems – the legacy of a back complaint which is causing regular problems in Mensah’s calf and hamstring – will seriously restrict the amount of money the Wearsiders are
prepared to pay. Bruce is likely to push for the compromise of another loan this summer.
Mensah (above) admits his future is out of his hands, but would love it to be at the Stadium of Light.
“I’m on loan here and it’s going to be between Sunderland, my agent and Lyon to sort something out,” he said.
“My agent talked to me in the last fortnight to say he was going to come here to talk about things. When he does I’ll know more.
“I’d be glad to play for Sunderland next week but it will depend on the club and my agent. I would like to stay, though.
“They keep me happy and treat me well. My colleagues are happy as a team, it’s like being a student at school, they’re always happy, they do their job and we’re all happy.”
While his constant fitness battle and Sunderland’s mid-season slump have made his a mixed debut season in English football, the World Cup finals-bound defender claims that he feels more “at home” on Wearside than he has done at a football club for a couple of years.
“I’ve enjoyed this season in some ways but it’s not been too good because of all the injuries,” he reflected. “When I’m injured I’m not happy but the rest of the time I’m so happy here, so are my family.
“The teams I’ve felt most comfortable with in my career are Rennes and Sunderland.
“I signed for Rennes (in 2005) expecting to be there for the rest of my career. Then Olympique Lyonnais came and bought me (in 2008). Now I’m here I feel happy, I feel like I’m home.
“Everything’s going nicely for me and talking to the people here they’re so kind.
“I don’t think of anything but Sunderland and I hope the best thing will come this summer. I hope it does.”
Meanwhile, long-term Sunderland target Paul Scharner claims that the Black Cats will be back in for him during the summer.
“Fulham, Everton, Aston Villa and Sunderland are interested in signing me, which would even guarantee me a spot in Europe,” he said. “So there is no reason to stay here.”
The versatile 30-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is currently with Bruce’s previous club Wigan Athletic.