JORDAN GETS FOCUS BACK ON ENGLAND
Cousins delight over Charlton safety
IT HAS been a season of shocks for Jordan Cousins – the Charlton midfielder is the first to admit he never expected to play such a pivotal role in the Addicks’ quest to beat the drop this term.
And his reward for a gruelling 47-game debut season is more action, this time with England U20s, after a surprise call up for the Toulon Tournament next week.
Cousins is no stranger to the international fold – he lined up alongside Liverpool hotshot Raheem Sterling in England U17s’ World Cup campaign in 2011 and has also played at U18 level for the Three Lions.
However, first-team action with Charlton proved more elusive before this season for the versatile 20-year-old.
But after racking up an eyewatering number of games since making his debut in August, Cousins is looking to catch the eye again in France – starting on Thursday when England take on Qatar.
“It’s been a very good season and a lot of things have come as a shock, like the England call-up,” said Cousins, who was also named in the England U21 squad to take on Wales tomorrow. The summer break has been cut short a bit! I’ve just managed the rigours of playing as it’s come along.
“Sometimes it has been hard because we had a lot of games to catch up on towards the end of the season but I’ve just been making sure I’m doing everything right and recovering well after the games.
“I’ve just been getting on with it to be honest and I haven’t really had time to think about it all because it’s been coming thick and fast.
“As the season went on I realised I was doing alright and I wanted to stay in the team and gain from the experience.
“But this is my first call up for the U21s and there are some quality players in there so I’m happy to be in there.
“It puts me in good stead not just for England but for my whole football career. I would say Charlton staying up is one of my greatest achievements and that will help with the U21s. It’s my time now to go out and impress every- one and show what I can do.”
Cousins certainly impressed over the course of the season and there were rumours that Arsenal were monitoring the midfielder’s progress at the turn of the year.
He had spent a one-week trial with the Gunners – the club he supported as a child – when he was 13 but he claims the new speculation surrounding their interest is unfounded.
“I think the link with Arsenal has been blown out of proportion because I support them,” he said. “Obviously it’s nice because it means I’m doing something right.
“My agent just wants me to focus on my football and that’s the most important thing right now.”
And having secured Charlton’s status in the Championship with a game to spare, Cousins is looking forward to a bright future at the Valley.
He’s hoping the uncertainty surrounding boss Jose Riga’s future at the club is sorted soon with the Belgian out of contract.
“Maintaining Charlton’s league status was the main goal and it was a tough first season for me,” Cousins continued.
“We didn’t want it to go down to the last day of the season. It was nice to go into that last match without any of that pressure.
“It’s exciting to be at Charlton and to see what’s going to happen. We’ve got a new training ground and things are looking forwards.
“We don’t know what’s happening manager-wise but everything is very exciting and I’ll be looking forward to going back.
“It was a bit different (when Jose came in) because I was out of the team but then I worked my way back in.
“He was very focused on making sure we stayed up and those were his words to all the players.
“He didn’t really go into individual things, he just made sure he focused on the team and that we stayed in this league.
“He was very tactically aware so he would make sure everyone knew his job on the pitch which as a young player I learned a lot from.
“I’m not sure who’ll be there next season but I’d like to see Jose there when I go back next season.”
HANDFULL: Charlton’s Jordan Cousins takes on Bolton’s Alan Hutton
Jordan Cousins in the BIG MATCH EXPERIENCE: England's
U17’ s match against Argentina tunnel before kick off of England in Mexico 2011