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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Smith shining light
Alan Smith (right) heads home for England
Alan Smith (right) scores for England
BBC Sport Online's Phil McNulty

Sven-Goran Eriksson conducted his latest public training exercise in front of 40,000 paying Villa Park customers - and still failed to solve his selection dilemmas.

England coach Eriksson could not resist the temptation to invoke his revolving door policy on substitutes against Portugal - employing his traditional succession of replacements.

It disturbed the momentum of an encouraging first half England display - but failed to dampen the prospects of the star of the show, Leeds United's Alan Smith.

Bowyer battles against Portugal
Bowyer made good England impression

Smith emerged as England's shining light in the 1-1 draw, scoring a spectacular goal, generally making a nuisance of himself every time he took possession, and possibly playing his way into the side to face Slovakia next month.

All eyes were on Smith's Elland Road team-mate Lee Bowyer, making his England debut after an international exile.

And while Bowyer can be satisfied with his contribution, which included creating England's goal, Smith can now look to take his fledgling international career on to the next level.

Eriksson has long been an advocate of the powerful style of Emile Heskey as a partner for Michael Owen, but he may now be tempted by the different option offered by Smith.

Heskey continues to battle manfully, but rarely looks like emerging as a regular marksman at the highest level.

And given England's recent shot-shy second half performances, Smith may just have delivered irrefutable evidence to Eriksson that it is time for a change.

Eriksson has other headaches to cure before the European Championship opener in Bratislava - namely the goalkeeping position.

If David James was hoping to stake his claim to be England's undisputed number one as David Seaman's star fades, he did not do it at Villa Park.

James cut an uncertain figure, an excellent throw out for the goal apart, and Paul Robinson's time may not be far away.

Elsewhere, it was virtually a training exercise as Eriksson used the opportunity to ease players back into international action.

Steven Gerrard cruised through 45 minutes to confirm what a force he will be for England if he remains fully fit, while Jonathon Woodgate will have simply been pleased to make a low-key re-entry on to the international stage.

Once again questions will be asked about the worth of a game that is robbed of shape and pattern by perpetual substitutions, but at least it was an international with a winner.

And that was Alan Smith.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Alan Green
"For 45 minutes this match had meaning"
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
"I think we played good football"
England goalscorer Alan Smith
"I really enjoyed myself"
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See also:

06 Sep 02 | Europe
07 Sep 02 | Internationals
07 Sep 02 | Scotland
02 Sep 02 | Sports Talk
07 Sep 02 | Football
07 Sep 02 | England
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