Dyer's delight at Portman Road display

KIERON Dyer last night revealed his 30-minute showing may have put him in Sven-Goran Eriksson's thoughts as a starter for England, writes Derek Davis.David Beckham and Michael Owen had given England a cushion before Dyer helped set up Frank Lampard for his goal as the former Ipswich Town star made a big impression on his return home.

KIERON Dyer last night revealed his 30-minute showing may have put him in Sven-Goran Eriksson's thoughts as a starter for England, writes Derek Davis.

David Beckham and Michael Owen had given England a cushion before Dyer helped set up Frank Lampard for his goal as the former Ipswich Town star made a big impression on his return home.

Dyer is hoping his new role as a second striker position could be a permanent move at national level.

The Newcastle United midfielder said: "I was really pleased with my performance, in a position I really like, which makes a change for England.

"It all went to plan but a goal would have topped it off. But I'm still happy because we got a good result, I played well and I got a good reception.

"Sven had a quiet word with me after the game and said it could be my best position so hopefully that little cameo keeps me in good stead with him."

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His lively input has pushed him into the reckoning for next month's Euro 2004 qualifiers, and the finals in Portugal.

He said: "Really the Macedonia and Liechtenstein games should take care of themselves, the big game is Turkey.

"Sven has shown he has the quality. His record shows he has lost one competitive game and that was against the world champions Brazil.

"Whatever team he puts out will win and I'm confident we will qualify."

Dyer had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside after running on to a James Beattie flick-on and beating the keeper with a low shot.

"I knew I was onside and it should have counted.

"It would have capped a fantastic night for me. The reception I got was amazing. Even when I was warming up they were chanting my name, it was truly brilliant.

"Without those fans and this club (Ipswich) I would not be the player I am today and I thank them for that.

"I never dreamt I would come back here playing for my country and I'm one of those who is glad Wembley is getting done up at the moment because that gives a lot of players the chance to play for England in their home town.

"Even when they said about an England roadshow I never thought in a million years I would be back here. But Ipswich has a fantastic stadium and it does not do itself justice in the First Division.

"So the sooner they get back in the Premiership the better and with an atmosphere backing them up like that it won't be a problem."

Dyer missed out on playing for England at his new club's home but this more than made up for it.

He said: "This means more than if I had played at St James' Park because it is my home, and still is. I love coming back to Ipswich.

"This is my home where my family and friends are. When I go out in Newcastle it is Kieron Dyer the footballer, here it is Kieron Dyer the person and people treat me like one of them which I enjoy."

Eriksson last night praised Dyer's performance. He said: "Kieron was excellent. He played as a second striker and did very well.

"The goal he scored was not offside and that was a pity but on a night like tonight it did not matter."

Eriksson revealed he is certain in his mind of the side which will take on Macedonia in a Euro 2004 qualifier next month.

He said: "I'm fairly sure about nine, 10 or perhaps even all 11 now. But the players who came on in the second half did impress me."

Eriksson admitted Croatia might have punished England in the first half.

"He said: "The first 20 minutes was good but then we had to defend more and they had two or three very good chances.

"In the second half we played better, and had more combinations."

Eriksson refused to accept that if England look so shaky in defence next month they will struggle to qualify. He said: "It is difficult to defend when your team is too spread out as we were first half. But we also created a lot of good chances over the 90 minutes.""

West Ham keeper David James had feared playing in Division One might hurt his international chances but he made some important saves in the first half.

Eriksson said: "David James was super in the first half."

He was also delighted to have captain David Beckham available. He said: "You can see why Real Madrid wanted him, some of his passes were world class and he made one goal."

Blues boss Joe Royle was summarising on Sky and said later: "To win 3-1 against a decent side like Croatia is very good."

With England and its fans on probation the behaviour of the supporters in Portman Road was superb. The National Anthems were respected and the minute's silence for Jimmy Davis and Ray Harford was well-observed.

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