Sol Campbell warns Trinidad and Tobago to be wary of Carlos Vela
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago -- Trinidad and Tobago assistant manager Sol Campbell says the Soca Warriors will have to keep his former Arsenal teammate Carlos Vela subdued if they are to get a result against Mexico in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
"Carlos is a young guy, very skillful, he's always been quick, [with a] really good left foot," said Campbell in an interview with ESPN FC.
"Obviously we've got to watch him tomorrow. We can't leave him alone. We've got to make sure we take care with him."
Vela was an Arsenal player between 2005 and 2011, although he went on loan on multiple occasions, and Campbell described him as a "nice lad."
The former England international, however, attributes his situation with the Mexican national team as part of the reason Vela didn't establish himself at Arsenal.
"He's very skillful and the football at Arsenal would've suited him," said Campbell. "That's why Arsene Wenger bought him. He wanted him to be a top, top player.
"But at the time, the Mexico situation at home, he wasn't really happy about Mexico and now he's happy. He's a little bit older now with more experience.
"Maybe if he came back [to the Premier League] it might suit him now. He's a little bit older and wiser."
Mexican players haven't had a good time in England in general, with really only Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez enjoying longer-term success and Jared Borgetti, Giovani dos Santos, Pablo Barrera and Vela failing to fully establish themselves in the Premier League.
Campbell believes that players coming from countries like Mexico need time to establish themselves and get used to the unique league.
"The skill factor is there," said Campbell. "You always need skill. It's just the application. The Premier League is relentless; it is non-stop.
"You can be flat out for nearly the whole game. So week after week, month after month it never drops. For some guys it becomes too much for them."
Campbell's voice wasn't the only one praising Vela's maturity, with Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio citing the Real Sociedad on Monday in his pre-game news conference.
"Various factors have contributed," said Osorio. "Carlos' age, the fact he is a father, playing in a recognized league; he's understood the demands and the reality of football, that it is a short career and you have to take advantage."
Campbell added that Trinidad and Tobago can give Vela and Mexico a tough game Monday and suggested the Caribbean side will not be sitting back.
"If you've got the ball, the other team is running," said the former England defender. "We're definitely going to try to stamp our authority on that kind of side, but also understanding that [Mexico's] players are very good players and you've got to be conscious of that."
Mexico sits in first place in the CONCACAF standings on seven points, while Trinidad and Tobago are four points back in fifth place.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.