I'm a Wright-Phillips fan, admits Sven

Last updated at 17:59 25 October 2007

Sven Goran Eriksson is convinced Shaun Wright-Phillips can still be a Premier League force even though it was the Manchester City boss who axed him from the England World Cup squad.

Wright-Phillips' career appears to have been on a downward spiral ever since he left Manchester City in 2005 and having been omitted from the Chelsea line-up that beat Schalke in the Champions League last night, it seems doubtful the 25-year-old will be involved when he former club head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Indeed, while Chelsea have claimed their £21million winger is suffering from a minor knock, reports have emerged of Wright-Phillips' dissatisfaction with life at the London outfit and suggested he could be on the move when the transfer window opens in January.

Eriksson may decide to add to his squad's firepower with a move for the England star and he said he can shed no light on why Wright-Phillips has failed to live up to the impressive reputation he built at City.

However, while the Swede accepts his decision to leave the Greenwich-born player at home instead of taking him to Germany for the World Cup was straightforward, he does not believe Wright-Phillips should be written off just yet.

"I have always liked Shaun Wright-Phillips," said Eriksson.

"He is not just a good player, he is a great player who is getting better all the time.

"I know he is still a popular figure at Manchester City and so he should be. He came through the academy and did wonderful things for this club.

"I can't explain what has happened to him but I can explain my decision not to take him to the World Cup. That is very easy. He signed for Chelsea and didn't play."

Eriksson accepted his logic was slightly flawed given he did take Theo Walcott, who had not even played a first-team game for Arsenal at the time.

"That is more difficult to answer," he admitted. "But I just think it is very difficult when you go to look at players and they don't play. That was the fact at that time.

"I didn't notice a change in him. But he had gone to a big team with a lot of good players - and you can only play 11. That was the reason why he was not in the team."

Wright-Phillips is not the only link between City and Chelsea.

Eriksson has his own history too, having been photographed arriving at Roman Abramovich's house for a meeting at which it is thought an offer to replace then manager Claudio Ranieri was made at a time when he was still England coach.

It is not a subject the 59-year-old intends to revisit any time soon though, as he made clear when asked if he had any regrets over the meeting.

"I only had a cup of tea with them," he smiled.

Neither has Eriksson spoken to old friend, and new Chelsea boss Avram Grant; at least not this week.

As he confirmed at the time of Grant's appointment as Jose Mourinho's successor, the pair go back a long way.

At the time, when Eriksson backed Grant to make a success of the job, few pundits agreed. Not for the first time though, hindsight is proving Eriksson to be more astute than many give him credit for.

"Everyone knows Jose Mourinho is a very good manager," he observed.

"Avram is less famous but he is a sensible man and I do not think there will be any problems for him in the future.

"I spoke to him when he took over, and a little bit after that as well. But I won't be speaking to him this week, I don't think it would be right."

Eriksson was still coaching Benfica when City last won at Stamford Bridge in 1993.

However, as Chelsea currently boast an incredible 67-match unbeaten Premier League record on home soil, the statistic is not quite as bad as it would appear.

And it is Chelsea's form now, rather than what happened 14 years ago, that leaves Eriksson virtually admitting he would be happy with a point for his third-placed side.

"I don't look at statistics," he said. "I just know it will not be an easy task for us to win there.

"But it is a good challenge for us. We will try to play football against them and if we can come home with something, even better."

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