Smith's last chance to impress Eriksson

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Alan Smith has been told to shrug off his disappointment and seize his chance to force his way into Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup plans tonight.

Smith was left out of the full England squad for this week's friendly against Italy and will instead start against the same nation in tonight's under-21 friendly at Valley Parade, Bradford. David Platt, still unbeaten in seven matches as Under-21 coach, has told the Leeds striker he has a golden opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the senior squad.

"Of course Alan's disappointed, everybody wants to be in the senior squad but he is probably going to play 90 minutes," Platt said yesterday. "Is it better to sit in the stands at Elland Road or to play tomorrow night?"

Smith is certain of selection from a squad which was yesterday reduced to 16. Fulham's Sean Davis and Charlton's Paul Konchesky had to pull out, joining the Derby pair Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott on the sidelines.

Gareth Barry will captain the side in the absence of Blackburn's David Dunn, while Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips will start on his first international call-up.

* The Manchester United defender John O'Shea will captain the Republic of Ireland Under-21s for the first time in the friendly against Denmark in Cork tonight.

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