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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor