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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Eriksson defends Bowyer omission
Bowyer in action against Portugal
Bowyer made his debut against Portugal
Slovakia v England | Sat 12 October Kick-off 1830 BST | Live on BBC1, BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Sport Online

Sven-Goran Eriksson said his decision to leave Lee Bowyer out of the England squad was entirely down to the Leeds midfielder's form.

Bowyer made his long-awaited England debut in the friendly against Portugal last month and was widely expected to keep his place following a good performance.

However, he was left out of the squad to travel to Slovakia and Macedonia for the Euro 2004 qualifiers, and was then overlooked as a replacement for the injured Trevor Sinclair.

There had been suggestions that Bowyer's absence was linked to his attitude off the pitch rather than his performances for Leeds, a claim which Eriksson emphatically denied.

"He's a good man," said the England coach.

"I am sure he can play better football than he is at the moment so I have chosen other people.

"That is the only reason he has been left out. I am sure he will play better in the future and he might be picked next time."

Bowyer has admitted he was "surprised" not to have been named in the squad.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed not to be named in the squad," he told The Yorkshire Post newspaper.

"I was surprised. I suppose all I can do now is try and play well for Leeds and hope something will come from that."

Meanwhile, former Leeds boss David O'Leary said he was "totally shocked" by Bowyer's exclusion.

"I just cannot believe that Lee is not in the squad for these games after his performance for England against Portugal last month," he told The Sun newspaper.

"To say I was totally shocked by the player not being selected would be a massive understatement."


Full England squad:

Goalkeepers: David Seaman, David James, Paul Robinson.
Defenders: Gary Neville, Ugo Ehiogu, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Danny Mills, Jonathan Woodgate, Gareth Southgate, Wayne Bridge.
Midfielders: David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, David Thompson, Frank Lampard, Owen Hargreaves, Kieron Dyer.
Strikers: Emile Heskey, Michael Owen, Darius Vassell, Alan Smith.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
"The only real surprises are in midfield"
Leeds coach Eddie Gray
"Lee Bowyer will bounce back"
Slovakia v England news

Slovakia 1-2 England

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