Johnson pays big price for learning the game

Uefa Under-21 Championship
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The Independent Football

Glen Johnson has been urged by his England Under-21 coach David Platt to learn the lessons of his sending-off as the Uefa Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign ended with a single-goal defeat by Turkey at the Besiktas Stadium here on Friday night.

The Chelsea full-back had been one of England's most impressive players but all that good work was eradicated when he committed two bookable offences in the space of five minutes late in the game. Johnson was shown a yellow card for dissent and then a touchline challenge saw him given his marching orders by the German referee, Florian Meyer.

But Platt knows that Johnson, who was only 19 in August, has a big part to play with the next crop of Under-21 players and wants him to channel his rich potential in the right direction. Platt said: "Glen is a winner. He wants to win. He has just got to channel that winning streak. He is going to be playing in some big games now at Chelsea, some very tight games.

"I think there is a touch of frustration in there. He doesn't like losing and in the last 15 minutes against Turkey, Glen wanted to do that little bit extra. I don't think it was a case of petulance. I think it was just a case of 'I'm going to get the tackles in because we need to drive forward', and he has got great energy like that. But when you have got a yellow card sometimes you have got to stay on your feet.

"The refereeing is also different in Europe. They go to the letter of the law. You don't get away with things in Europe and at international level that you would on a Saturday at home. It is important you get that into your head, that you don't get away with things. It is little things like that.

"Glen is a young boy who has got to learn and as long as he learns from what happened, I don't think it is the be-all and end-all. It is not as if he has put his elbow in somebody's nose."

Platt again spelt out his desire to remain as England Under-21 coach for another European qualifying campaign after recent speculation over whether he would have to step down. "I will continue to do my job until somebody tells me otherwise," he said. "It is not a question that I really can answer.

"I have enjoyed my job. I get a lot of satisfaction now from shaking hands with people like Darius Vassell and Wayne Bridge who are now with the senior squad. Now if I can help Jermaine Jenas, Glen Johnson, Michael Dawson, people like that, to progress into the senior squad as well eventually then it would be the same feeling for me - but I want to win as well.

"There's a million and one things that my employers have got to take into consideration. I am doing the job to the best of my ability. I enjoy my job and I want to keep it. If people decide otherwise, there is not a great deal I can do."

Platt is upbeat about his side's last two performances against Portugal and the Turks - the teams who qualify - but knows England have paid for errors which need to be erased. He said: "I really have not had too many worries with those performances. They have both had energy, commitment and some good play in parts. Unfortunately, we have made errors, gone a goal down in the first couple of minutes of both games and it is very difficult at this level to get back from that.

"It seems that we put ourselves on the back foot in too many games with things that are not really tactical. It is not desire, it is just silly errors. People say to me what is the difference between club football and international football and to me it is mistakes. You must make fewer as an international footballer - and that is what they have got to try to eradicate."

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