Brighton winger Izquierdo dreaming of World Cup spot

Jose Izquierdo says it will be a dream to play at the World Cup after being named in Colombia's squad for their upcoming friendlies.

Thursday, 22nd March 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:37 am
Jose Izqueirdo in action at Manchester United on Saturday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Izquierdo has been in sparkling form for the Seagulls this year and gets the chance to stake a claim for Colombia’s World Cup squad when they take on France tomorrow evening and then Australia at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old joined Albion from Club Brugge for £13.5m in August and has scored four goals in 25 league matches. He admits playing in the Premier League has helped him improve as a player and he is now looking to add to his two international caps earned last year.

Izquierdo, who played for Colombia against Spain and Cameroon, scoring against the latter in a 4-0 win, said of his call-up: “I’m very happy and proud. It’s a result of all the work I’m doing here and all I’ve done until now.

“The hard work has given me the motivation and power to keep dreaming.

“It’s not a secret that it’s a dream for me to play in a World Cup but also to stay in the Premier League.

“I have the ambition to fight for that dream but also I know the experience will be a big test for me to grow myself as a person and a professional player.”

Izquierdo feels he is improving all the time playing in the Premier League and said: “Playing at this level has helped me so much. I’m playing with players who are World Cup level. It’s so different and training every day is at a big level, you get better and better.

“You start to adapt to the movement, the fast football, the physicality, so you start to choose better decisions on the pitch. And also the feeling you have with your team-mates grows each training session and in each game.”

Izquierdo will come up against team-mate Mathew Ryan on Tuesday and he is looking forward to trying to score against Albion’s number one.

The bubbly winger said while laughing: “I’ve spoken with Maty. I said I will try to score. It’s something special to play against a team-mate but next week we will be enemies.”

Izquierdo is eager to take his opportunity with Colombia in the next two games as he hopes to play at the World Cup in Russia: “That will be a dream.

“It’s something very special but this is the beginning, the start. I have to be focused, take the opportunity in the couple of games with the national team and after that we will see what happens.”

Brighton boss Chris Hughton praised Izquierdo after earning his call-up and said: “The credit must go to him, he’s worked incredibly hard to improve his level of performance and he’s looked a real threat for us.

“He’s been a good team player. We’re not the level of team in this division which can afford to have wide players that are only offensive players.

“Firstly, they have to be team players and he’s not shy of working both ways. He gives us a real pacey threat going forwards and he would only be in their squad because of the form he’s in here.”

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