Bent called into England squad as Johnson withdraws

October 2, 2006

Everton striker Andrew Johnson has pulled out of the England squad for the forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifying matches against Macedonia and Croatia.

The 25-year-old has made a stunning start to the season with Everton and was the subject of glowing praise from England head coach Steve McClaren yesterday.

However a hamstring injury, which Johnson sustained in the last minute of Saturday's 1-1 draw against Manchester City in the Barclays Premiership, will keep him sidelined for the England games.

Darren Bent has been promoted to the senior squad to cover for the loss of Johnson, after the Charlton striker was initially named in the England under-21 squad.

England play Macedonia on Saturday, and Croatia on October 11, in Group E.

Johnson is the top scorer in the Barclays Premiership with six goals, and has helped Everton stay unbeaten after seven matches following his £8.6million summer move from Crystal Palace.

England head coach McClaren told www.thefa.com: 'Andy's out of the games against Macedonia and Croatia with a hamstring injury which he picked up in the last minute against Manchester City on Saturday.

'It's a real blow because he's made a massive impact already with Everton this season and I've been hugely impressed by him. He's got such a great attitude and is a constant threat to any defence.

'He was certainly knocking very hard on the door for a place in the team, so it's a disappointment to lose him.

'However, I've spoken to (England Under-21 boss) Peter Taylor and I can confirm that Darren Bent will now join the senior squad when we meet tomorrow.

'We're fortunate that we are able to call Darren up from the Under-21s. He's already got experience of being involved in several senior squads and he's a player with excellent ability and a real goal threat.'