Steven Caulker hopes to prove to Roy Hodgson that he can cut it on the international arena by snuffing out the mighty Miroslav Klose in Tottenham's Europa League clash at Lazio.
Caulker was expected to play a bit-part role at Spurs this season, but some excellent pre-season form, and an injury to Younes Kaboul mean the 20-year-old has became a regular at the heart of the team's defence so far this season. He also earned his first England cap in last week's friendly in Sweden and he is determined to fill the void left in the national squad by John Terry.
"Every game in a Spurs shirt is a chance to prove myself at international level," Caulker said. "Lazio have a German striker in Klose so I have a chance to prove myself again and get my place back in the England squad."
Caulker and his manager Andre Villas-Boas have both voiced their hope that Thursday's Group J meeting would not be overshadowed by the monkey chanting that scarred the first meeting between the two sides in September.
Caulker, who played in the controversial goalless draw against the Italians in London and was also on the pitch when the England Under-21 team were subjected to monkey chanting in Serbia four weeks later, said: "I'm not worried about the atmosphere - I hope football does the talking," the England centre-half said.
"Italy is a great footballing country. Hopefully that will be the talking point tomorrow."
Villas-Boas, who knows his team can secure a place in the knockout stages with a win in the Stadio Olimpico, agreed with the defender's comments, although he admitted the £32,500 fine Lazio received for the chanting at White Hart Lane may not be a severe enough deterrent.
"UEFA decided to punish Lazio and rightly so," Villas-Boas told a press conference at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
"It doesn't mean that incidents won't happen again tomorrow. I think the players are in the right frame of mind to leave the authorities to deal with those situations in case it happens.
"That's something that hopefully will not happen tomorrow."
- Sports & Recreation
- Steven Caulker
- Miroslav Klose