Football

England exile acted as spur to Johnson

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England full-back Glen Johnson believes being frozen out by Steve McClaren has made him a stronger player and person.

The Liverpool defender, who arrived from Portsmouth this summer, was the scapegoat in 2005 after a woeful night in Copenhagen when Sven-Goran Eriksson's men lost to Denmark and he paid the price under the Swede's successor McClaren, but was recalled under Fabio Capello after rediscovering consistency at Pompey.

"I wasn't picked much when McClaren was involved but going through things like that has made me the person I am today," said Johnson, who is in the frame to start against Holland on Wednesday in an Amsterdam friendly.

"There's nothing worse than not playing football. Some people have outbursts but I tried to keep my head down and stay focused."

Johnson describes his development as "turning into a man", which he was able to do with the help of Harry Redknapp and Paul Hart at Pompey, with Rafael Benitez now looking to reap the benefits of his maturity.

"I've aged," Johnson added. "I'm improving all the time and that has been a key factor. Before I didn't play so it's impossible to put in performances if you don't play."

He offers Benitez and Capello an attacking option going forward and took centre stage against Andorra at the end of last season.

"Fabio has been really positive with bombing on when we can but also picking our moments," he said.

"You can't go gung-ho and start running all over the place, but he is more than keen about getting the full-backs to push on."

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Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Liverpool

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