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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Eriksson moves to reassure Smith
Alan Smith
It is probably not the cleverest thing he has done
FA chief executive Brian Barwick
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has played down suggestions Manchester United forward Alan Smith does not have a future with the national team.

Smith, 24, opted to play for United's reserves on Monday rather than join the England squad in Denmark.

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick even hinted it could mean the end of his international career.

But Eriksson said: "I take the blame and it's finished now. The door is not closed for Alan Smith, I promise you."

Eriksson said he agreed to let Smith play for United instead of England.

And the coach continued: "I think he had his reasons, maybe he thought he wasn't fit and wanted 90 minutes of football rather than sitting on the bench.

"I haven't spoken to him directly but it's important to stress that I have nothing against Alan Smith, absolutely not. It does not mean that he is out for the future."

"I think it's my fault that I didn't communicate what happened to more people. It was also a little bit my fault as I didn't check how many games he had played."

Barwick had earlier made it clear that he felt Smith's future as an England player was in doubt.

"It is probably not the cleverest thing he has done," said Barwick.

"I think Sven wanted him in the squad and Alan wanted to get some football in his legs.

"Sven will pick the next squad and the one after that so he will have plenty of opportunity to either pick Alan Smith or not."

Smith however, has reiterated his desire to play for his country and a statement released by United insists the withdrawal was not intended as a snub.

"Prior to the initial squad announcement United coaching staff spoke with Sven and the FA and it was agreed that Alan Smith would be left out of the squad so he could gain match fitness," said the statement.

"It was then cleared that he would play in the reserve game at Bolton.

"It is by no means due to Alan Smith's lack of desire to play for England."

The 7m capture from Leeds claimed he wanted to improve his fitness by playing a full 90 minutes for United's reserves, rather than sit on England's bench in Copenhagen.

Smith scored the opening goal as United's second string beat Bolton 3-0 at Lancaster on Monday.

Interview: England boss Sven-Goran Erikkson

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