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FOOTBALL: Lita proves perfect `super-sub' stand-in

LEROY LITA proved to be the ideal replacement for Darren Bent at England Under-21 level by taking over his role as "super-sub".

The Bristol City striker was brought into the squad as a late replacement for Bent, who picked up a calf injury while playing for Ipswich at the weekend. Bent has come off the bench to score five goals for Peter Taylor's side this season, and Lita opened his account on Tuesday night after being brought on in England's friendly against the Netherlands at Pride Park.

Unfortunately Lita's effort was only a late consolation after the visitors dominated most of the game, but the 20-year-old took great pride in scoring with a diving header on his debut. "The signs I got were positive," Lita said. "The manager said he would like to get me on. Training went well and I was confident I would get the chance. It would be nice to be involved again, the experience over the last two days is indescribable and the feeling of scoring is unbelievable.

"It would have been nice to win as well, but I was delighted with the goal. Fortunately it fell to me and I put it away, if you head it down you have a chance. It was a great ball too.

"I've been fortunate to be given a chance, the gaffer Peter Taylor thinks I'm good enough and I thought I did all right."

Lita will come back down to earth tomorrow as Bristol City take on Walsall at Ashton Gate. "I've given them something to think about. I'll go back to my club now and perform for them," he added. "It's a big game because we're five points behind the top six and we need to start catching them up."

Taylor, who was encouraged by his side's second-half performance, sees the similarity between Bent and Lita, with both tipped for a future in the top flight. "I've seen him twice this season and when I lost Darren Bent I needed the same type of player," Taylor said.

"I was shocked. I was at home watching Dream Team," Lita said of the moment Taylor informed him of his call-up. "The gaffer tried to get hold of me but couldn't, so he had to go through one of my friends. I couldn't believe it. Within 45 minutes I was out of the house and on my way to joining up with the rest of the squad.

"I always follow my dreams and hope that they come true. I enjoyed every minute of it."

Lita could be called back for the Uefa Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Germany and Azerbaijan next month, with England needing to bounce back from this defeat to stay top of their group.