Johnson opts for Everton 'to further England career'

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The Independent Football

Andrew Johnson picked Everton for his return to the Premiership believing it will boost his England career. The 25-year-old, Everton's record signing at £8.6m from Crystal Palace, was unveiled at Goodison Park yesterday.

"Coming here will improve my international chances," Johnson said. "Playing alongside established Premiership players can only benefit me. I wouldn't say being in the Championship completely stopped my England career but I was only on the fringe.

"I scored 17 goals last season and if I could have scored 10 of those in the Premier League I would be on the plane to Germany."

Everton's manager David Moyes last night made a £4m bid to sign the Wolves' defender Joleon Lescott. Moyes hopes to complete the deal by the weekend.

They had been chasing Chelsea's Robert Huth, but it is believed Middlesbrough have not only met the asking price but made the German World Cup squad man a massive wages offer, far ahead of anything Everton could manage.

For the time being Moyes is just happy to have got Johnson, adding: "We tried for him a year ago and went back again this summer. He wanted to come to us and that has been a real boost."

For Johnson it appears a relief to be back in the top flight. He said: "It was very hard in the Championship, mentally hard."

Johnson's old and Charlton Athletic's new manager Iain Dowie, who was formally unveiled at The Valley on Tuesday after his move across south London from Crystal Palace, swung into action immediately yesterday, releasing the striker Jay Bothroyd and defender Chris Perry, while agreeing a new three-year deal with the centre-half Jonathan Fortune.

Before Dowie's arrival, Charlton had already announced that the strikers Francis Jeffers, Shaun Bartlett and Jonatan Johansson would be leaving the club.

The Blackburn Rovers manager, Mark Hughes, has joined the race to sign the £7m-rated Red Star Belgrade's Nikola Zigic, who, at 6ft 8in, is an inch taller than the Liverpool and England attacker Peter Crouch.

The 25-year-old Serbia & Montenegro international is also a target for Portsmouth, Hamburg and Roma.

Birmingham City last night completed the signing of Cardiff City's England Under-21 striker Cameron Jerome on a four-year deal for an initial £3m fee.