Gerrard's ban good news for JJ?

Last updated : 06 February 2003 By Martyn Elliott

The Liverpool player received the ban for his two-footed lunge on Everton’s Gary Naysmith – a fair punishment for what was a red-card offence, whatever Gerard Houllier says – and it rules him out of the England friendly match against Australia.

So who is going to partner Paul Scholes in the centre of the England midfield at Upton Park?

Nicky Butt has only recently recovered from a long-term injury, Joe Cole and David Dunn have been out of form, Michael Carrick isn’t very good and Sven-Goran Eriksson is believed to understandably dislike Lee Bowyer.

So that leaves Kieron Dyer, whom Sven seems to view as a wide player, and JJ.

Sven has recently admitted that he rates JJ as one of the best young players in the country and on recent form you can see why.

The friendly would be an ideal opportunity to ease him into international action ahead of the crunch Euro 2004 qualifiers with Turkey.

JJ’s call up to the full England squad is a question of when rather than if, so Sven may as well have a look at him while he’s in top form.