Peterborough United boss Ferguson - Norwich City have got a future England defender in Ryan Bennett
Peterborough United boss Darren Ferguson believes Norwich City have got a future England defender on their hands in Ryan Bennett.
The 21-year-old officially became a Canary on Monday, after completing a move to Carrow Road in January and being immediately loaned back to Posh for February in order to give Ferguson time to find a replacement.
He played his final game for Posh on Saturday – a 1-1 draw at Doncaster that saw Tyrone Barnett convert the defender's last-minute cross to earn a point – before watching his new club's narrow defeat against Manchester United and then joining up with Brian Eastick's England Under-21 squad.
The defender is set to feature in the Young Lions' Euro 2013 qualifier against Belgium in Middlesbrough tonight (6pm). And his old boss believes a spell in the Premier League under the guidance of Paul Lambert could easily see Bennett make the step from Under-21 to senior international.
'We'll obviously miss Ryan – he's a great player in his own right but his partnership with Gaby (Zakuani) has been special for us,' said Ferguson. 'We should all be pleased for Ryan though. He's moved to a good club with a great manager and if he continues to progress he could well play for the full England team. He's got the temperament. He can play, he can head it, he can read the game and he's quick enough. It was great to see him finish his time here on a high as well. He delivered a great cross for Tyrone and that got us a point that we didn't look like getting.'
Norwich's move for the former Grimsby skipper – reported to be for an initial �3.5m – earned Posh their record incoming fee for a player. That did not ease the disappointment for fans at London Road seeing their top asset leave the Championship club, but they did at least treat the centre-back to a rousing goodbye.
Bennett told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph: 'I said last week after my final home match that the fans have been great with me and their support was as good this week as it was then. There were 2,000 of them behind the goal and they really got behind us. It was nice to get that reception at the end again. I was worried that my last game was going to end in defeat which would have been really disappointing. I felt we definitely deserved something from the match just because of our second-half performance. We dominated for long spells and it was fantastic to be involved in the equaliser. I have loved my time at the club and I am now looking forward to training at Norwich.'
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Bennett is expected to train with his new team-mates for the first time on Thursday – once he has completed his England Under-21 duty on Teesside.
Belgium can reduce England's Group Eight lead to just one point with victory at the Riverside tonight.
Eastick added: 'Although the team talk will be about being positive, playing through the pitch and trying to create chances, there will also be a message to the players that they need to be aware of the counter-attack as they do have two or three really good players.
'If we play our best I'm very confident we can win this game.'