By Kealan Hughes

20th Mar, 2021 | 11:50am

Micah Richards: Sam Johnstone is outstanding and fully deserves England call-up

Micah Richards has showered West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone with praise after he earned his first England call-up this week.

The pair played together at Aston Villa and Richards has been a fan of Johnstone ever since, claiming he knew the keeper would have a successful career.

Richards has praised the 27-year-old throughout the season, calling him “exceptional” on Match of the Day back in November – so he has admired Johnstone for a while.

In a column for the Daily Mail, Richards commented on the England call-up, “I’m delighted Sam Johnstone has been rewarded for his outstanding season with West Brom.

“Sam was a team-mate of mine at Aston Villa and one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet, a wonderful professional who got a proper grounding at Manchester United.

“Villa couldn’t afford to keep him back then but I always knew he’d establish himself somewhere.

“West Brom look like they are headed for relegation but their form cannot put a dampener on what Johnstone has done. If he wins a first cap it would be fully deserved.”

Perfect reward

Richards alludes to Johnstone being a shining light in a dismal season for West Brom and he could not be more accurate.

Many of our players have struggled to adjust to the Premier League and have underperformed frequently, but not Johnstone.

His consistency is remarkable and he has spent almost every match under pressure from the opposition.

And yet he always stands up and plays his part, always producing top saves and very rarely making a mistake.

England recognition is exactly what Johnstone deserves and we would be proud to see him earn his first cap over the next couple of weeks.

He will be vital to getting us back in the Premier League if we do go down but we also would not be surprised to see him leave.

This season Johnstone has proved he belongs at this level and we would not begrudge him a well-deserved move.

In other West Brom news, Karlan Grant and Grady Diangana’s impressive performances in Friday friendly have given Sam Allardyce plenty to think about.

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