Cleverley thriving after Olympic experience

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley admits his experience at the Olympics played a key role in his rise to prominence with England.

Cleverley got his first taste of international action as a member of the Great Britain squad at the London Games earlier this year and now he has been fast-tracked into Roy Hodgson's England team.

After being deprived of his England debut last season due to injuries at inconvenient times, Cleverley gave a good account of himself at the Olympics.

Hodgson was suitably impressed and rewarded Cleverley with his maiden England appearance in the friendly win over Italy in August.

He has since played in all three of England's World Cup qualifiers this season and should feature in the crucial trip to Poland on Tuesday.

"The Olympics were very important for me. It was perfect for me to get some games and play competitive matches on a big stage," Cleverley said on Sunday.

"Roy Hodgson was at a couple of the games, I was in good form and I have managed to carry that on into the season.

"I am really proud to have started all four games so far. I am always happy to represent my country, but I have a bit more hard work and a few more games ahead of me before I become established.

"There are plenty of top class midfielders in the Premier League."

Hodgson was especially impressed with the way Cleverley linked up with Old Trafford team-mates Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck to good effect against San Marino on Friday.

And the United connection could form a crucial part of Hodgson's side for years to come.

Hodgson has since declared that Rooney, who gave a mature display as stand-in captain against San Marino, is England's captain of the future.

And having benefited from working with Rooney for both club and country, Cleverley would have no problem if his United team-mate inherited the armband on a full-time basis.

"Wayne has all the attributes to be a good captain," Cleverley said. "He is a winner. You could tell that before the game because he was quite vocal in the dressing room.

"I am not the manager but I would certainly be happy playing under a captain like Wayne Rooney. He is a fantastic player and a good leader."

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