YORK City goalkeeper Russ Howarth was left warming the bench as England Under-21s thumped Slovakia 4-0 last night.

With Liverpool's Chris Kirkland rested from the clash with a neck injury, U21s boss David Platt was left with a choice between either Howarth or Matt Murray for the number one shirt. However, Platt opted for Wolves net-minder Murray, who ironically could have fallen down the Molineux pecking order had the proposed transfer of Howarth not fallen through. And, like Howarth, Murray was a virtual spectator as Francis Jeffers (2), Shola Ameobi and man-of-the-match Joe Cole netted in the comprehensive victory.

Updated: 10:44 Saturday, October 12, 2002