Jamo Not To Blame!

Tony Gale insists that the criticism of David James concerning Slovakia's goal against England on Wednesday night is unjustified.

Slovakia's 35-yard free-kick, scored by Vladimir Janocko, flew over, or some would say through, the England defence, bounced, and squeezed in at the far post.

For that, David has received a certain amount of stick in the post-match analysis, but Tony is quick to defend him - perhaps rather better than the England defence did on the night!

"I think it is a very difficult one to deal with, we have seen so many goals this season from left or right swung in from one side with the opposite foot, so to speak - an inswinger," he says.

"Of course if you don't win the first header David is waiting to react to see if there is a glance off someone's head or if it is going go to go straight through - but when it does, that is the only time David can react, and it was right in the corner, so I wouldn't necessarily put that down to David.

"The key is that they should have won the first ball in the air. They are so difficult to defend, those things, and once you miss that person in the space - I think it was Gareth Southgate and Frank Lampard who were jumping - then David has only got a split second to react.

"It had a nice bit of pace on it - and I don't think he could have come for the first cross anyway.

"He may have got a bit of stick but if you are any kind of defender or goalkeeper that has played football you will realise that he had very little chance with that."

Of his overall performance, and not forgetting he made some important stops in the game, Tony says: "I thought he did quite well. He made a good save early on and he looked quite confident with himself.

"But unfortunately when you do concede everyone is looking to see who you can blame for the goal."

Joe Cole didn't get the chance to add to his caps on Wednesday, and Tony says: "There was no Joe and I was surprised after that first half showing which was pretty tepid. I thought he might have got a chance but Sven chose to go the other way, bringing Owen Hargreaves on and Darius Vassell.

"It worked out for England in the end but I feel Joe's chance will come if they keep playing this diamond system they are talking about.

"It is absolute rubbish to suggest that Joe can only play at the tip of the diamond. He can play on either side, on the right or the left, and for me with his form at the end of the season he should be in the England side."

In the England under-21 game the day before, only Jermain Defoe of West Ham's triumvirate of youngsters got a run out, eventually being replaced by Carlton Cole in the second half, while Stuart Parnaby was preferred to Glen Johnson at right-back, and Rhys Evans to Steve Bywater in goal.

"Jermain looked a little bit as if he had a long season, but by and large he had a decent season for West Ham and the under-21s," says Tony.

"He didn't play all that well but it wasn't the best of games and when he was brought off it looked like he had a slight knock."