England Januzaj bid doubtful due to British pact

Frank Dalleres
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ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson’s controversial attempts to woo Belgian-born Manchester United prospect Adnan Januzaj look doomed to failure almost before they have begun.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder yesterday turned down a senior call-up from Belgium, according to reports from his homeland, while his ancestry means he is also eligible to play for Albania, Serbia and Turkey.

Hodgson admitted on Saturday that he had identified Januzaj as a possible future England star, if the youngster can be convinced to switch allegiance to the country to which he moved in 2011.

However that bid appears likely to be in vain, unless the Football Association decides to tear up an agreement with Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland that goes further than Fifa rules on naturalisation.

It is the same pact that previously helped to scupper attempts by Hodgson’s predecessor Fabio Capello to tempt Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, then of Everton, to consider a call-up.

The home nations agreement, signed in 2009, stipulates that none of the four associations will select players who are not descended from their country or have lived there for five years before the age of 18.

That would appear to rule out Januzaj and goes further than world governing body Fifa’s rules, which allow uncapped players to switch allegiance if they live in a new country for five years.

Hodgson’s admission of interest in the teenager, who scored twice as United beat Sunderland on Saturday, revived debate about England selecting nationalised players.

“There’s no doubt that he’s a real talent and we have our eyes on him but a lot will have to be discussed,” said Hodgson.

England’s 2010 move for Arteta faltered after Scotland manager Craig Levein revealed the home nations agreement. It also emerged that Arteta’s representation of Spain at junior levels rendered him ineligible for England as he did not hold a British passport at that time.