James: 'I don't just want to make up the numbers'

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The Independent Football

However, while the Manchester City goalkeeper accepted that the England coach needs to scrutinise the young contenders, Norwich City's Robert Green and West Bromwich Albion's Chris Kirkland, he also emphasised that he did not want to travel to Germany next summer, assuming England qualify, merely to make up the numbers.

"What I want is England to be the best team they can be in the World Cup finals," he said. "But if my goalkeeping ability is less favourable than someone else's, I don't want to be there."

Eriksson names his squad to face Austria (a week on Saturday) and Poland (the following Wednesday) next Sunday.

Despite James' excellent Premiership displays for City, the perceived wisdom is that his rare candour in accepting that he was under-prepared for the Denmark débâcle will continue to prove costly.

"I can understand and accept not being in the squad," he agreed. "It's frustrating. Robbo's [Paul Robinson] playing well and he's not making mistakes. But that doesn't mean I'm not trying to challenge for that position. Sven hasn't shut the door on me, which is very reassuring, because he could have easily said, 'David, thank you very much. You're 35, and we're looking to the future'."

James, having lost his place to Robinson after the World Cup qualifying game against Austria in Vienna last year when his error effectively denied England two points, appeared as second-half substitute in the Denmark friendly and was at fault with their first goal.

Though he was actually told on the day that he would be called on, James, who places great store in visualisation techniques, insisted: "My preparation starts the week before a game."

James admitted that mentally he had switched off - or, to put it more accurately, hadn't adequately switched on. "I want to dispel one myth, though," he said. "I wasn't just sitting there in my hotel room, doing nothing beforehand. It was just that I didn't go through my preparation with the same attention to detail which I normally do before games."

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