Eriksson lashes out at allegations as James is dropped

So often Eriksson has allowed the scandal in the tabloid newspapers about his affairs with Ulrika Jonsson and the former Football Association employee Faria Alam simply to wash over him, but the Swede is understood to be furious about the latest allegations concerning Alam. There have been allegations that the woman who conducted another affair with the former FA chief executive Mark Palios was contacted by Eriksson during England's tour of America in June.

Those allegations would have proved extremely damaging to Eriksson, given that Alam is suing the FA for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination, breach of contract and unequal pay. A ruling on her employment tribunal is expected next month. When giving evidence to the hearing in July, Alam made serious allegations about the conduct of her immediate superior David Davies, the FA's executive director, which he denies.

Eriksson, who kept his job last summer when Palios lost his over the fallout from the Alam scandal, has never commented on his private life or his relationship with partner Nancy Dell'Olio, but he has lost patience with the latest allegations about him contacting Alam. Sources close to the England manager claim that he was contacted by her and suspected that an invitation to meet could have been part of a "sting" by some tabloid newspapers.

With allegations about Eriksson pursuing another woman in yesterday's tabloids, the England manager was moved to defend himself at St James' Park yesterday before he took his place in the stands to watch Newcastle take on Manchester United. He said that nothing would "disturb the harmony" of the England dressing-room.

"On non-football I'm sorry to read rubbish weekend after weekend, things that aren't true," he said. "Obviously someone is out there trying to disturb my job and trying to make me leave the country. If that's the case I can promise those that you won't make me leave the country. If they think they can disturb the harmony in the England team they are totally wrong.

"Obviously someone is trying to make life difficult. I don't know why there are these 'true' things. I don't know who it is, but I couldn't care less. I'm not angry, but if people are to write about my private life they should at least try to get it right. Is that asking too much to write the truth? I hope I will be judged on football results. This is a strange country. I couldn't care less and those close to me are prepared for it and they don't believe anything they read. But it's sad. I will not be weaker [for it] I can promise you - and the players couldn't care less about it."

When he came to select his squad to face Wales on Saturday and Northern Ireland the following week, Eriksson dropped David James, which will surely signal the end of the 35-year-old's international career. James was responsible for a glaring error when he scurried off his line against Denmark this month and allowed Jon Dahl Tomasson through to make Dennis Rommedahl's first goal in the 4-1 rout in Copenhagen.

The Liverpool left-back Stephen Warnock, 23, has been called up for the first time in the continued absence of Wayne Bridge, and yet Eriksson will have to wait on the fitness of John Terry, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Steven Gerrard, who will be assessed on Tuesday.

The Birmingham striker Emile Heskey's two goals against West Bromwich Albion have helped him earn a recall.

Eriksson has also dismissed reports that Rio Ferdinand is on the brink of being dropped for his part in Denmark defeat. The England manager said that he had "never even discussed" the possibility that the Manchester United player might lose his place in the team.

He added: "I spoke to Rio Ferdinand and told him that if I had something to tell I would tell him right to his face. The story about him being dropped was absolutely rubbish. I've never, ever even discussed it. I was happy with the first-half performance of all the players [against Denmark]. I was very unhappy with all the players' second-half performance. It was the wrong attitude."

There is a distinct possibility that Eriksson will sacrifice width and experiment with a holding midfielder behind the midfield trio of David Beckham, Gerrard and Frank Lampard. He spoke of Owen Hargreaves in glowing terms, but it was Scott Parker he was watching in Newcastle yesterday.

At right-back Eriksson said that either Jamie Carragher or Phil Neville would replace the injured Gary Neville. He also said that he had spoken to Michael Owen about the player's problems at Real Madrid and how it would affect his international chances.

He said: "I have talked to Michael; first of all they have to decide very quickly, because the window closes on Wednesday. What he is concerned about is to play football, and playing football for England in a World Cup year, and I know that is in his head."

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