England send Grip to take a look at Johnson

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The Independent Online

Andy Johnson's hopes of forcing his way into the England squad could depend on his performance for Crystal Palace against Liverpool this afternoon. With Sven Goran Eriksson naming his squad this evening for next week's friendly against Spain in Madrid, England's head coach has sent his assistant, Tord Grip, to Anfield, with Johnson sure to be one of the players he will be assessing.

Andy Johnson's hopes of forcing his way into the England squad could depend on his performance for Crystal Palace against Liverpool this afternoon. With Sven Goran Eriksson naming his squad this evening for next week's friendly against Spain in Madrid, England's head coach has sent his assistant, Tord Grip, to Anfield, with Johnson sure to be one of the players he will be assessing.

In theory at least, Eriksson has a striking vacancy in his squad due to Darius Vassell's broken ankle. If the Swede is looking to bring in an extra forward alongside Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Alan Smith, there is no doubt that Johnson is the man in form. The 23-year-old is the leading English goalscorer in the Premiership. There has also been talk of Johnson being available to play for Poland because he has a Polish grandfather, but it is by no means clear whether he would be granted the Polish passport he would need.

Carlton Cole, who has been performing well in Aston Villa's attack, has been selected for the England Under-21 squad to play Spain next Tuesday, while most of the other contenders to replace Vassell would be players who have been tried before, such as Southampton's James Beattie. Marcus Bent has shone for Everton, but after a stop-start career that has seen him play for eight clubs, the 26-year-old will surely have to show more consistency before he could be considered for international duty.

Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing, who has also been selected for the Under-21s, and Birmingham City's Julian Gray, have both been talked about as possible solutions to England's problem position on the left side of midfield, but Eriksson's squad will be bolstered by the return of Wayne Bridge. The Chelsea defender played well in that position for England earlier this season and comes back after missing the most recent World Cup qualifiers, against Wales and Azerbaijan last month.`

The likelihood is that Eriksson will stick to the tried and tested players who have helped to put England in a strong position in their qualifying group. He may even go to Madrid one or two players short of the normal 23-man squad, particularly as new Fifa regulations this season prevent international teams from using more than six substitutes in a match. Kieron Dyer is fit again but may not win his place back, while Phil Neville could also miss out.

Sol Campbell, who has been missing from the Arsenal line-up with an Achilles injury, is highly unlikely to make the trip, but John Terry and Ledley King have already proved themselves more than able deputies. David Beckham has not played since suffering a rib injury against Wales last month but hopes to return to action for Real Madrid against Albacete tomorrow and, like Owen, will be particularly keen to play for England next Wednesday in their club's home stadium.

The FA is being sued for up to £700,000 in compensation by its former coach Les Reed. Reed, who was an assistant Under-21 coach, claims that Trevor Brooking sacked him without notice on 19 May.

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