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A crucial time for SWP.

It was reported in some newspapers and websites over the weekend that Liverpool were preparing to make a bid to loan the services of SWP from Chelsea for the remainder of the season.

It was cited as likely due to the fact that Jose Mourinho had recently stated he would not stand in the way of any unhappy player who wanted to leave (not that SWP has stated he is unsettled) and team mate Wayne Bridge moved on loan to Fulham last week, undoubtedly with the aim of safeguarding his England World Cup squad place.

A World Cup squad place is something that SWP himself must now be sweating on, given his less than illustrious start to this Chelsea career. Hark back to last season when he was the hero of the City crowd and earned plaudits left, right and centre. He broke into (and impressed in) the England side, and raised debate as to whether he should replace David Beckham on the right-hand side of Englands midfield.


Fast forward to the start of 2006 though and SWP is very much a peripheral figure in the current Chelsea side, seemingly behind Robben, Cole and Duff for a place in the side and so far has started only nine games (with a further sixteen substitute appearances), often being withdrawn after failing to make an impact on the game. To me this then translates into him trying too hard to impress and his performances have been very nervy looking without him playing with the freedom and confidence of last season and has struggled to fit into a more rigid 4-4-2 formation and system that Chelsea play.

However, it may not all be negative for SWP. Chelsea are now entering a crucial part of the season with games coming thick and fast with the resumption of the Champions League on top of FA Cup and league action. It is likely that he will feature more prominently for Chelsea between now and the end of the season.
It is also easy to forget that he it must take time for him to settle in a new environment and he has come into a squad which swept all before them last season. Take a look at Joe Cole, who struggled initially under Mourinho but is now a focal point of the side and has nailed down an England place as well.

As he offers something different to other potential England candidates I still think he will make the World Cup squad despite how the rest of the season pans out, but there is still plenty of time in the season left for someone like a Stuart Downing (or heaven forbid Kieran Richardson) to snatch a place ahead of him.

All in all though, it could be a crucial few months for SWP between now and the end of the season.