PREMIER LEAGUE

Defending Messi? I'd panic, says Wolves captain Coady

Conor Coady has won a richly deserved England call-up but is happy to admit Lionel Messi would strike fear into him.

Defending Messi? I'd panic, says Wolves captain Coady

Lionel Messi would instill panic among defenders in the Premier League if he moves to the English top flight, according to Wolves captain Conor Coady. Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has been heavily linked with a switch to Manchester City since informing Barcelona of his intention to leave the club last week.

Coady call-up

Coady's brilliant form for Wolves has led to a maiden international call-up for England's forthcoming Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark. Nevertheless, he is not too proud to admit being brought face to face with Messi would raise his pre-match anxiety levels.

"I'll be honest with you, I'd probably have a lot of panic before the game, trying to get my head around playing him," Coady chuckled as he spoke to reporters from England's St George's Park base. "You can watch all the videos in the world to try and prepare for playing someone like him and you'd struggle. It would be amazing for the Premier League. We all know how big the Premier League is. He's his own man and he'll decide his own future. Let's see what happens."

The over-riding emotion right now for Coady is excitement, along with a palpable sense of pride. The 27-year-old, who was sold by boyhood club Liverpool as a youngster, has made a persistent case for inclusion as one of Wolves' standout performers over the past two seasons.

"It’s amazing, it’s absolutely incredible. From the moment I got phone call on Saturday it's been a whirlwind," he said. "It’s an honour to be here. The standard of training is incredible. It’s everything I thought and more."

Southgate delivers the news

Coady revealed England boss Gareth Southgate called him at an inopportune moment to deliver news of his international breakthrough.

"I was taking my little boy round to his friend's on our estate," he explained. "My phone was going off in my pocket. I thought, I'll ring them back when I get home because I had the kids. Then I had a text saying Gareth Southgate's trying to ring you, so I picked the boys up and ran back to the house and my missus. My little boy missed 10 minutes of whatever it was, playing with his friends.

"My wife was excited. I rang the number back and it's a phone call I’ll never ever forget for the rest of my life. It was incredible, I was shaking."