YORK City shot-stopper Russ Howarth was an anxious man today as he waited at Gatwick airport to team up with the England Under-20s squad in the South of France.

Howarth, who had been originally left out of the squad for the Toulon Tournament, received a call up yesterday after West Ham's Stephen Bywater was promoted to the England U21s to replace the injured Chris Kirkland, Liverpool's £6million shot-stopper.

However, despite heading off from his home at 5.30am this morning a cancelled flight meant Howarth was left hanging around the airport.

"I was delighted, but my plane has now been cancelled so I've now got to get a later flight," he told the Evening Press.

"It is a bit of a setback but hopefully I will meet up with the rest of the team tonight."

The delay is likely to rule the 20-year-old net-minder, who has been linked to moves to Leeds, Sunderland, Wolves and Everton in recent weeks, out of starting England's second match against Poland tomorrow.

Chelsea's Rhys Evans, who played in the opening 0-0 with China, should start with Howarth on the bench.

Howarth had been at home when he received a message on his 'phone telling him to pack up his gloves and boots to meet up with the rest of the team.

"I didn't really expect the call. They had told me to be on standby and not to book a holiday, so I have just left everything," he said. "I was really chuffed.

"I was disappointed not to have been called into the original side and had given up hope of making it really, so it is nice to get the chance."

Tomorrow England will take on Poland, with games against Portugal on Sunday and Brazil to follow in the group stages.

However, Howarth, who was limited to just three appearances for City last season as Northern Ireland international Alan Fettis stole the limelight, will just have to keep his fingers crossed to see whether he will get his chances.

"They haven't told me anything really, I suppose I will find out when I get out there," he added.

Updated: 14:17 Thursday, May 09, 2002