Eriksson throws AJ England lifeline

Last updated : 03 March 2006 By Nik Taylor

England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has reignited Andrew Johnson’s World Cup hopes by revealing he may take five strikers to Germany this summer, rather than just four.

Eriksson had been expected to choose only two more front men on top of first-choice partnership Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney.

And with Peter Crouch all but guaranteed one of those extra slots, it appeared Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe were fighting over the fourth.

But after Bent’s disappointing debut at Anfield on Wednesday, Eriksson admitted he might keep his options open by taking a wider selection of forwards to the World Cup.

"I might still pick five strikers," he said. "There are still two months to go before I have to pick my squad and I will make up my mind depending on the form and fitness of the players."

Such words will surely give hope to AJ, who now has two months to prove he has fully recovered from the niggling injuries that have dogged him this season.

Bent’s innefectual performance against Uruguay may have put a question mark over his sqaud inclusion, while Jermain Defoe rarely gets off the bench for either club or country.

Should Johnson manage to hit an end-of-season scoring streak that fires Palace to the Premiership, what price him edging ahead of one of them and taking the last seat on that Germany plane?