GRAEME SOUNESS has handed Jermaine Jenas the ultimate compliment - labelling the England international the complete midfield player and comparing him with compatriot Steven Gerrard.

The 21-year-old made his first England start in the 1-0 midweek win in Azerbaijan, replacing the injured and suspended David Beckham, and Souness believes it should be the start of a very long career with the national side.

According to the former Scotland skipper, England now have an embarrassment of riches in central midfield, but he sees Jenas as more than capable of holding his own with the likes of Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Souness is still trying to work out whether the £5m signing from Nottingham Forest is better as a holding player in the middle or in a more attacking role supporting the strikers.

Souness said: "He's got everything. He's got the athleticism to do box-to-box - he's the complete midfield player.

"I don't know if long term JJ will be a better holding midfield player or a Bryan Robson type who'll get in the box all the time.

"He's only a baby but JJ can be anything he wants to be. He's got everything you need to be a top player in the modern game.

"Unless JJ gets a bad injury the only challenge I see to him is if he allows himself to get into that comfort zone.

"We've asked him to do jobs on the right-hand side and on the left-hand side and he won't be the happiest man in the world to play there.

"But he's a youngster who is learning about the whole midfield job."

Liverpool's Gerrard is seen by most as one of the best midfield players in the world and Souness can see a lot of the 24-year-old in Jenas.

And as far as his manager is concerned, the only thing the Newcastle player lacks is the aggression that stands Gerrard out as one of the best in the world.

Souness said: "Maybe he doesn't have the aggression that Steven Gerrard has but he's very similar - he's two years younger as well.

"England are fortunate at this time that they've got some real quality in midfield.

"The manager will pick the ones he thinks are best suited to the game he's playing.

"But when you think Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, JJ, Nicky Butt - he's a lucky man."

Souness also praised Jenas' team-mate for club and country, Butt, who was one of England's best players over the two games against Wales and in Azerbaijan.

The 51-year-old Scot says the former Manchester United man has a selfless streak that makes him ideal in the sitting role he plays so effectively.

Souness said: "In that job you have to be disciplined and you have to sacrifice a bit of glory hunting and Nicky Butt does that.

"You have to make the right decisions and you have to make them in a fraction of a second. Stay in position or go and get that ball further forward.

"You have to be extremely disciplined and you get better and better in that position with experience.

"Nicky Butt should just be coming into that period of his career where his decision making is at its best.

"That position is vital because if you don't get it right you're exposing your two centre-backs and you're one step away from having a shot on you goal."

* Skipper Alan Shearer is calling on his team-mates to extend their unbeaten run and challenge Arsenal and Chelsea at the top of the league.

Newcastle are unbeaten in the last six and go to Charlton tomorrow aiming to extend manager Souness' unbeaten start to his career with the Magpies.

The run has seen Newcastle move from the fringes of a relegation place to the top eight and the captain is in no mood to see his team-mates slip up now.

Shearer said: "We've got a little run going but what we need to do is turn five of six-game unbeaten runs into ten or 15-game unbeaten runs.

"We want to be competing with the top teams, there's no doubt about that, and they have proved time and time again they can go on long unbeaten runs.

"It's the start of another busy week for us with a UEFA Cup game in Athens coming up in midweek, and it's important to keep our run going."

Shearer is likely to be partnered up front tomorrow by Craig Bellamy, with Patrick Kluivert's hamstring injury likely to keep the Dutchman out of the trip to the Valley - but he faces a fitness test today.

Souness said: "Patrick's not far away but with the programme we've got coming up we've got to get it right or he could be out for a long time."

On the plus side, Souness will have Shola Ameobi in his squad after the striker recovered from his hip injury.

l Everton manager David Moyes has won the Barclays Manager of the Month Award for September.

The Goodison side picked up maximum points in the Barclays Premiership last month, with wins at Manchester City and Portsmouth and a home success over Middlesbrough. The run means Everton, tipped to struggle this season, are currently third in the Barclays Premiership table.

Tottenham defender Ledley King has won the Barclays player of the month award. King helped his club to two clean sheets against Norwich and Chelsea and impressed in the 1-0 defeat against Manchester United.