QPR star backs winger for England recall

Onuoha believes Wright-Phillips is ‘on par’ with the best players in the country

QPR new boy Nedum Onuoha has backed team-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips to realise his ambition of returning to the England squad.

The Rangers defender played with Wright-Phillips several times at Manchester City before the pair were reunited by Onuoha’s move to Loftus Road a fortnight ago.

And, although Wright-Phillips won the last of his 36 England caps in October 2010, Onuoha sees no reason why the winger should not add to that tally.

“You can’t say Shaun’s got potential because he’s 30 years old! But I’ve been lucky enough to see him when he was at his absolute peak at City – just before he went to Chelsea he was amazing,” Onuoha told the Times.

“Shaun, as a person, is very humble, always hard-working and there’s nothing stopping him from being that player again.

“It was difficult second time around at City because he was never in the side for too long, but the longer he stays in the side, the more confidence he builds for himself.

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“I think we’re seeing someone that’ll probably go back into the England squad. I’ve been very lucky to play with some of the top England players and Shaun’s on a par with those top players.”

Onuoha, who was born in Nigeria but grew up in Manchester, earned international recognition himself at under-21 level, representing England in the European under-21 Championship finals in both 2007 and 2009.

Yet the 25-year-old insists he is not overly concerned about his own chances of forcing his way into the senior squad – it is all about helping his new club to climb the Premier League table.

“These are the top 20 clubs in the country and I think we’ve seen that you can play at any one of those clubs and still aim to become an international,” Onuoha observed.

“As long as you’re playing well, the likes of the England manager are probably paying attention. For me, that’s never been my main objective – I always want to play well for my club side.

“If I can do that for my entire career and never have a single England cap, so be it. I want to be known for being a good player at the clubs I’ve been at and giving 100 per cent.”

Having made his Manchester City debut back in 2004, Onuoha had hoped to spend his entire career at the Etihad Stadium, but his prospects dipped after Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes as manager two years ago.

The defender spent the whole of last season on loan with Sunderland and, although he admits it was a wrench to leave Manchester, jumped at the chance to rejoin Hughes at Loftus Road.

“It was difficult because City was my hometown club and you always have the dream that you want to stay at one club, but unfortunately things change in football,” Onuoha added.

“I felt that I needed to play – I probably could have stayed there for another two and a half years and watched it all go on, but I don’t think I would have kicked many balls in that time.

“But it’s good to see the club I’d been at for so long being successful. I’m always going to look out for their results and I hope they win the title – a lot of people are working very hard to achieve that.

“The manager’s a very structured and organised individual, the kind of person you want to play under, and when the chance came for me to join QPR that was one of the big factors.”