Glen Gets Ready

Glen Johnson says he will "enjoy himself" on England under-21 duty in the forthcoming week.

His inclusion in David Platt's squad for the first time, alongside Steve Bywater, who has recently returned from injury, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, and Jermain Defoe, means that West Ham are represented in every section of the field for the games with Portugal and Turkey.

It gives those players, of course, something of a respite from the battle to stay up.

England go to Portugal on Friday, and take on Turkey at St James' Park on April 1st as they look to build on a solid start to their qualifying campaign for the 2004 European Under-21 Championship finals.

"I haven't really had time to think about it; I only got told a couple of days before the game so I will just go there and enjoy myself," he says.

His main concern, though, is West Ham's plight, and of Saturday's win in which he put in yet another assured performance - and got a booking - he says: "It was a good result.

"I don't mind playing like that every week and taking a booking and, though obviously you don't want a yellow card every time, I was happy with my performance."

He says that Michael Carrick should have been given a foul seconds before his challenge on George McCartney which earned him a booking and admits: "That is probably what wound me up!"

Glen says the win was not as easy as it may have looked, and adds: "We knew they weren't going to lie down and were looking to impress their manager to try and get out of there, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen.

"It is good but we haven't done anything yet. No, we have, because we have improved massively, but it is just that we won't be too happy until the end of the season and we know we are playing in the Premiership next season."

It is the first time Glen has been in the first team with West Ham out of the bottom three and he adds: "If Bolton win they are back above us so we will have to wait and see what happens."

But he reckons that Saturday was like a throwback to the last campaign, when, as he watched the side after youth team duty in the morning, he would enjoyed the first team's performances in the afternoon.

"When the boys are like that it is a reminder of how we were last season, really, and if we play like that I don't think we have got any problems.

"You get more time on the ball because you hit it in areas where you should be and when everyone is like that they don't get time to start playing."

Now, of course, Glen is able to celebrate any wins in the dressing room with the players - except on Saturday. There was no post-match euphoria for him or not, at any rate, in the dressing room in the immediate aftermath of the victory.

"I wasn't in there; I had to do a drugs test," he says.

Glen says the key to the recent successes has been closing down the opposition at every opportunity, and he concludes: "It takes a lot of energy but it is worth it at the end of the day."