Taylor fails to entertain suitors

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Message to Sven. This did not grip me. Regards from your No 2, Tord. That is the text message the future England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, can expect to read on his mobile phone this morning. This was a dull affair, marked only by the goals - one from an Icelander, the other from a Welshman.

Message to Sven. This did not grip me. Regards from your No 2, Tord. That is the text message the future England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, can expect to read on his mobile phone this morning. This was a dull affair, marked only by the goals - one from an Icelander, the other from a Welshman.

The sub-plots had threatened to steal the limelight at Filbert Street yesterday, as the latest England manager was coming face to face with one of his predecessors and Tord Grip, the deputy to England's manager-elect Eriksson, was keeping a watchful eye over proceedings from the comfort of the stands. The opportunity to eavesdrop on the post-match conversations between Taylor, Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, and Grip would have been worth braving the elements for alone.

In the event, there was precious little to report from a disappointing match and the chances are that Grip's notebook was covered with doodles as opposed to glowing reports. With the various international squads already submitted ahead of next week's friendlies, the majority of players on show had nothing to fight for.

There were three exceptions. Tim Flowers was determined to impress Eriksson in case the Swede returns to an "over-30 regime", Kieron Dyer was keen to make a case for inclusion in Taylor's "under-30 team" on Wednesday in Turin for the Italy match, and Alan Shearer was mindful to prove he could still perform at the highest level if he wanted to.

It was the former England captain who was quickest to offer a reminder of his potential when, after four minutes, he turned Gerry Taggart with ease before being brought down on the edge of the Leicester penalty box. His free-kick rebounded off the wall, though, and failed to trouble his old club and country colleague Flowers.

At the other end, Shearer's opposite number, Ade Akinbiyi, was seeking to make a name for himself. Perhaps the one-time Wolves centre-forward feels that, at 25, he has the opportunity of making Taylor's squad if his club manager remains in charge for the friendly against Spain in February. In truth, he has no chance. His partnership with Trevor Benjamin is one of the more unlikely in the Premiership and happens to be, at £6m, one that is grossly over-priced. "I think they both showed promising signs," a generous Taylor said.

Akinbiyi did start Leicester's best move of the first half. Seven minutes had elapsed when he picked up the ball in midfield, spun around and charged for goal, before delivering a clever reverse pass into the path of Callum Davidson. The Scotland international was first to it and appeared to be tripped by the Newcastle wing-back Andrew Griffin. Referee Rob Styles indicated goal - rather than penalty - kick.

Dyer tried to lift his team-mates and was Newcastle's brightest player throughout. Twice in the first half the England international got himself into good shooting positions and twice he blasted his shot high and wide.

"Kieron was busy," Robson said. "He ran his socks off but was unlucky in front of goal." Taylor, too, was impressed but would offer no clue as to whether he would start with Dyer in Italy.

Both teams struggled to find an opening and it was not until the part-time national manager decided to replace Benjamin with Arnar Gunnlaugsson that the game sprung to life. Three minutes after his arrival, the man they call Arnie appeared to have terminated the contest with the deadliest of left-foot free-kicks from 25 yards. Leicester, though, in the words of another former England manager, went to sleep seconds later and allowed Gary Speed to latch on to Dyer's perfect lay-off before slotting the ball home for the equaliser.

Akinbiyi could, and should, have scored the winner four minutes from the end, but he showed why he is not part of England's plans by hitting his shot over the bar when he was clear on goal.

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