Football: Mills and Dyer's senior call-up

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The Independent Online
KEVIN KEEGAN responded to England's injury problems ahead of Wednesday's match in Bulgaria by calling up the Ipswich Town midfielder Kieron Dyer and the Charlton Athletic defender Danny Mills from the Under-21 squad.

Although 20-year-old Dyer has appeared in the England squad before, this represents Mills' first call-up to the senior set-up. The 22-year-old has played six times for the Under-21s, most recently on the left-side of the back-three, but appears for his club in a full-back role and could be considered as extra cover behind Michael Gray in case Graeme Le Saux fails to recover from a virus.

Dyer, who like Mills is a target for Leeds, has been a regular in the Under-21 side for some time, having made 10 appearances with his only goal having come in Rieti just before the senior team drew with Italy to qualify for last year's World Cup.

Frank Lampard could not be considered as a booking picked up in Friday's victory against the Swedish Under-21 side left the West Ham midfielder suspended.

Yesterday's newspapers underlined the fact that Keegan's period of grace has come to an abrupt end. "The honeymoon is over," opined the Sunday Express, and "Swede and Sour" was the Sunday Times' verdict, while the Mail on Sunday said there were "No Excuses".

Speaking on BBC TV's Frost programme yesterday morning, Keegan admitted the criticism he has received is "fair".

"Every manager knows that you stand on results and at the moment I have to say the criticism I had was fully deserved," said Keegan, who also bravely predicted a 1-0 or 2-0 win against Bulgaria. "The criticism of the players is a little over the top. I think players should be protected by managers."