Bent benefits as Smith puts club before country

Smith told the England coach that his priority would not be the friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen on Wednesday but tonight's reserve team match against Bolton Wanderers at the humble County Ground in Leyland, Lancashire.

Eriksson said yesterday that the striker, who would have been the replacement for the injured Andy Johnson, had chosen instead to advance his club prospects after starting United's last two matches on the substitutes' bench.

It is a decision that will no doubt find favour with the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, rarely a fan of mid-season international friendlies, and it also benefited the Charlton Athletic striker Darren Bent, who capped two goals against Sunderland on Saturday with his first call-up to the England senior team.

Smith's international career has been chequered: although he scored on his debut against Poland almost three years ago, he was sent off in a Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia in October 2003 and then had to drop out of a subsequent friendly against Denmark because of an outstanding disciplinary charge.

Smith played six times for England last season, including the World Cup qualifiers against Austria, Wales and Azerbaijan and was on the tour to America at the end of the season. However, Eriksson chose to select Johnson ahead of him and had Peter Crouch been fit it would have been likely that Smith, 24, would also have been behind him.

Eriksson said: "Alan Smith should have been in. But he has played so little football and wants to play in the reserves on Tuesday and have 90 minutes, he told me. So I have Darren Bent from the Under-21 squad coming in.

"If I had to pick my team for the World Cup now, I know the 11 players I would play, if they have a season like last season. But it is a long time between now and May 2006. A lot of things can change, maybe some of them not playing as well as last season."

Bent's goals on Saturday were not his first in the Premiership - that came more than three years ago when he scored the winner for Ipswich against Middlesbrough. Bent established himself the following season with 18 goals and has eight in 12 appearances for the England Under-21.

Asked whether he would consider Chelsea's Jose Mourinho as a successor as England coach, Eriksson, who is contracted until 2008, described the Chelsea manager as a "good organiser and a great motivator. I'm sure he would make a good England manager but I'm not going to resign," Eriksson said. "You have to speak to Brian Barwick about that. I have a contract until 2008. But of course he could be a candidate.

"I've not opened or closed the doors to anybody. I said I thought the FA would choose an Englishman but I don't really know. It's not my problem. I don't know if there are only three realistic candidates [Steve McClaren, Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley]. You are asking the wrong person. I want to stay in my job.

"I think there are a lot of candidates. There are a lot of managers in England, English and foreign, who would love to have that job a lot. It is maybe the most prestigious job you can have in the world."

England squad

To face Denmark, at the Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, on Wednesday:

* GOALKEEPERS

David James (Manchester City), Robert Green (Norwich City), Paul Robinson (Tottenham Hotspur).

* DEFENDERS

John Terry (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Matthew Upson (Birmingham City), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Phil Neville (Everton), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Glen Johnson (Chelsea).

* MIDFIELDERS

Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle United), David Beckham (Real Madrid), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Tottenham Hotspur), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich).

* FORWARDS

Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic), Michael Owen (Real Madrid), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk