Football: Shearer cannot understand Sutton's attitude to England

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The Independent Online
Chris Sutton's decision to reject England continued to make waves yesterday with even the normally bland Alan Shearer was stirred into quotability by his former Blackburn partner's withdrawal from the B squad for tonight's match with Chile.

"I was very surprised," the England captain said. "He obviously has his own reasons but I can't understand throwing away the chance of playing for your country. If it had been me I'd have said `thanks for putting me in the B squad, I'll show you what I can do and make sure I'm in the A squad next time'. Four months ago [when Shearer was in plaster] I'd have given anything to represent England. It is a bigger loss to Chris than to England as we have a lot of players capable of doing a job in that position. With Les [Ferdinand] pulling out he would have had a great chance of being pushed into the senior squad."

Shearer said he was not yet match fit and would not be starting tomorrow night's Wembley friendly with Chile but was hoping to play as a substitute. However, Hoddle's later comments about "risk" and his "gruelling" recovery programme suggested it will only be in an emergency. With Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham probably starters, and Michael Owen and Dion Dublin sure to figure, he has plenty of choice.

This is not the case in goal where Shaka Hislop has been called up to replace Tim Flowers, who was ruled out after a scan on his bruised ribs yesterday. Nigel Martyn will thus definitely start.

Another withdrawal was David Beckham late on Sunday night due to a persistent hamstring injury aggravated in Saturday's game. With England only having two days' training before tomorrow's match it was not felt worth bringing him down from Manchester when he had no prospect of playing. He is likely to be fit to play for United in the FA Cup against Barnsley on Sunday. His club-mate Paul Scholes made the journey but sat out training with a sore knee.