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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Woodgate close to England recall
Jonathan Woodgate and Andy Johnson
Woodgate and Johnson have impressed since summer moves
England head coach Steve McClaren says Jonathan Woodgate is close to a recall.

The defender, 26, won the last of his five England caps in March 2006 but has caught the eye again since moving from Real Madrid to Middlesbrough on loan.

"He's one we are looking at," McClaren said, despite leaving Woodgate out of the squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers at home to Macedonia and in Croatia.

"He's playing well but his games have been limited and he has to build up that kind of fitness over a season."

Woodgate has a history of injury problems and McClaren wants to see him perform at his peak on a consistent basis.

McClaren, who credits the centre-back's change of club in the summer as having helped his international prospects, says Andrew Johnson is another player to benefit from a move.

The striker has scored six goals since joining Everton from Crystal Palace and has jumped ahead of Jermain Defoe in the queue for a berth in attack.

But with Wayne Rooney available again after suspension and Peter Crouch firing in five goals in the three games under McClaren, the 25-year-old will have to bide his time.

Andy Johnson deserves his place in the squad and he is knocking on the door to get in the team

Steve McClaren

England face Macedonia on Saturday and Croatia on 11 October.

And McClaren added: "When you look at the strikers, Jermain Defoe has come in and played three and done very well when he has played with Peter Crouch.

"But, for me, Andy Johnson is the one who is really coming through.

"He has got his head at Everton. I thought it was a terrific signing. He's blossoming. He has started the season well.

"I've seen him two or three times and he has really impressed me with his work ethic and the way he works for the team.

"He's really pushing the strikers very hard. He deserves his place in the squad and he's knocking on the door to get in the team."

Johnson scored in Everton's draw against Manchester City on Saturday and McClaren had warm words for another striker who scored at the weekend.

Darren Bent has been dropped from the squad to make way for Rooney but the Charlton man, who found the net at home to Arsenal, is set to start for Peter Taylor's England Under-21 team.

"I want him to play. I've discussed it with Peter and Darren," said McClaren.

"Although he's very much in our plans for the future, we would like him this time to play in the under-21s and help them qualify for the tournament in the summer."

Taylor's team play Germany on Friday in the first-leg of a play-off to determine who qualifies for the European Championships.

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02 Sep 06 |  Internationals
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16 Aug 06 |  Internationals


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