Portsmouth 0 Middlesbrough 0: James stakes claim to earn England call

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The Independent Online

The Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp called for David James to be reinstated to the England set-up after his goalkeeper denied Middlesbrough their first victory at Fratton Park in more than 16 years.

The Teessiders relied on their own young Australian goalkeeper, Brad Jones, for preventing Pompey claiming their first victory of the year when he made early, outstanding saves from Pedro Mendes and Matthew Taylor.

But it was James, who was ousted by the England manager Steve McClaren when he took over the national side, who came to the home side's rescue with a series of outstanding saves to deny Yakubu, the substitute Malcolm Christie and Stuart Downing late on.

He may not have done enough to be included in McClaren's squad announcement on Friday for next week's friendly with Spain but Redknapp believes the player should be given the opportunity to add to his 35 caps. He said: "I think David should be in the squad as he is different class. There's no one better around than him. Ability-wise he is the best.''

Redknapp and his opposite number, Gareth Southgate, believe that the veteran defender Sol Campbell should also be picked by his country as once again he showed glimpses of the ability that made him an England regular for so many years.

However, Southgate is also hoping that his own defender Jonathan Woodgate will get the England call instead now that he is back to his best following his nightmare series of injuries.

Boro may have scored 18 goals during their unbeaten run but they looked pretty subdued up front as Portsmouth made all the early running which saw Linvoy Primus force a good save out of Jones.

The youngster who could one day threaten his team-mate Mark Schwarzer for the Australian No 1 jersey did well to turn aside a Matthew Taylor volley before keeping out yet another long-range effort from Mendes.

Southgate said: "Brad was pretty unflappable and I would have no hesitation in putting him in again. At 24 he has huge potential and I had an enquiry from West Brom for him during the window. I could understand if he wanted to go and get first-team football but their valuation didn't match ours. I was delighted to keep him."

Amazingly it was the Teessiders who so nearly snatched an unlikely win with just 10 minutes to go.

Yakubu's firm drive was pushed over the bar by James. Christie then tested the home goalkeeper's reactions with a 25-yard effort which James fumbled before he recovered quickly enough to deny Yakubu from close in. Then Downing tried his luck forcing James to dive full-length to save Portsmouth a point although it was only their third from five games.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) James; Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Traore (Douala 69); Lauren, O'Neil, Mendes, Taylor; Benjani (LuaLua 73), Kanu (Cole 81). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (GK), Hughes.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2) Jones; Xavier, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor; Cattermole, Boateng, Arca, Downing; Morrison (Christie 81), Yakubu (Euell 90). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Rochenback, Davies.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Booked: Middlesbrough Downing.

Man of the match: Jones.

Attendance: 19,820.

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