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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
What next for Wright-Phillips?
By Dan Warren

Shaun Wright-Phillips
Shaun Wright-Phillips has become the latest addition to Chelsea's cavalcade of stars.

But what are the qualities which have persuaded the Blues to part with 21m to bring him to Stamford Bridge from Manchester City?

Will he become a first team regular or merely an expensive substitute? BBC Sport examines the move.

WHY HAS HE BECOME SUCH AN ASSET?

When Wright-Phillips - then 18 - made his Manchester City debut in a League Cup match at Burnley on 24 August 1999, his fame was mainly down to his legendary father.

Arsenal striker Ian Wright was moving towards the end of his career as his adopted son's was just beginning - but it was soon apparent the youngster had the talent, as well as the name, to match Wright's.

The diminutive winger was snapped up by City after being released by Nottingham Forest at the age of 16 for being too small.

WRIGHT-PHILLIPS KEY STATS
Date of birth:
25/10/1981
Man City debut:
24/08/1999
Man City appearances:
181
Man City goals:
31
England appearances:
4
England goals:
1
Forest's loss proved City's gain as he established himself as a first-team regular, and was a key man in their side of 2001-02 which won promotion to the Premiership in emphatic style.

Wright-Phillips was soon being noticed for reasons other than his famous familial connections, and as far back as March 2002 Kevin Keegan - then boss of City - said the youngster was an "absolute certainty" to play for England.

The 5ft 6ins winger has turned the perceived disadvantage of his size into an asset - his low centre of gravity, combined with his natural pace and good close control have established him as one of the Premiership's most potent attacking threats.

He enjoyed his best season to date in 2004-05, netting 12 times, including a fine strike on his England debut against Ukraine in August, and a stunner against Arsenal in City's draw at Highbury at the turn of the year.

The performances did not go unnoticed, forcing City chairman John Wardle to slap the obligatory "hands-off" warning on his prize asset.

He clearly did not want to lose him - but even his strong will to keep the player was loosened by the player's request to speak to Chelsea and the London club's deep pockets.

WHAT DOES THIS MOVE MEAN FOR HIM?

Opinion is split over whether Wright-Phillips has taken a big step forward in his career - or whether he is about to become one of the priciest bench-warmers in football history.

At most clubs, a player of his potential would be an automatic choice, but Chelsea are not short of quality on the flanks.

Wright-Phillips is likely to be vying directly with established stars Damien Duff and Arjen Robben for the wide spot behind the main striker - with Joe Cole also capable of playing down either flank.

TOP ENGLISH TRANSFERS
R Ferdinand - 30m
Leeds-Man Utd 2002
W Rooney - 27m
Everton-Man Utd 2004
Wright-Phillips - 21m
Man City - Chelsea 2005
The likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry have established themselves as favourites of Blues boss Jose Mourinho - Wright-Phillips will not have that luxury.

True, the charismatic Portuguese has purred about capturing "one of the best players in England".

But England international Joe Cole had to spend a long time on the sidelines before establishing himself as a regular player - and even then only after injuries to Duff and Robben.

And Scott Parker had to move on because he was so frustrated at his lack of first-team chances, despite having been signed by previous manager Claudio Ranieri for 10m.

Still, any repeat of last term's injuries to Duff and Robben will open the door for Wright-Phillips. And it is inconceivable that Chelsea would not find some role for him after their investment.

The other undeniable plus for Wright-Phillips is the boost to his England chances.

Sven-Goran Eriksson has shown he is not worried about picking players who are not regular starters for their clubs - and the prospect of high-profile Champions League football will ensure he does not fall off the England coach's radar.

WHAT DOES THIS MOVE MEAN FOR CHELSEA?

There is no doubt Chelsea were hindered by the injuries to Duff and Robben last season.

Robben injured his foot in early February last season and played only five further times for Chelsea after that, following a string of fine Premiership displays.

It is very important to keep the core of the team English
Jose Mourinho
Duff missed the Champions League defeat against Liverpool with hamstring trouble.

Mourinho is hungry for Champions League glory and Wright-Phillips instantly offers another option should either player suffer an injury repeat.

And while he may not be able to match the tricks of a Robben his pace adds an extra element.

Wright-Phillips also fits in with Mourinho's policy of recruiting English players where possible.

"It is very important to keep the core of the team English, with players of a strong mentality. We must only go abroad to buy what we don't have here," he has said.

Clearly he sees Wright-Phillips as a unique home-grown talent in the English leagues - whether the player gets the chance to prove his ability is yet to be seen.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: New Chelsea signing Shaun Wright-Phillips


Interview: Manchester City director Dennis Tueart



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