James in Eriksson's plans

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The Independent Football

Woodgate, 25, has signalled his form after finally making his Real Madrid debut last month following 17 months out with a ruptured thigh muscle in his left leg. He won the last of his five caps in the friendly against Sweden in March last year and finds himself ranked at least fifth among Eriksson's centre-halves. James' comeback, however, would be much more controversial following his mistake against Austria in September last year in the first World Cup qualifying game that caused Eriksson to drop him from the squad.

However, with Chris Kirkland injured and James in form for Manchester City, the 35-year-old has pushed himself back into the reckoning. Eriksson has first-choice Paul Robinson and Robert Green to choose from, and is understood to have hopes for Liverpool's Scott Carson, but has definitely not shut the door on a return for James.

Yesterday, the Manchester City manager, Stuart Pearce, said that he believed James' form merited a recall. "If we are talking about who are the best three goalkeepers in England, David James is one of them.

"He has been sensational for us since he was left out of the England team. His mentality, his desire to work and achieve, and the frustration in his face when he concedes a goal are something to behold.

"If he didn't believe he could get back into the World Cup squad, his form would suffer. David has not been overworked but it looks like he wants to prove people wrong."

* Nicolas Anelka yesterday earned a surprise recall to the French squad for their friendlies against Costa Rica on 9 November in Martinique and Germany three days later at the Stade de France. Anelka had said he would not return to duty under the coach, Raymond Domenech, but was included in his 23-man squad.

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