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Europa League round of 16 draw

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By ESPN Staff

James ignores critics to target England jersey

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James shrugged off criticism over his mistake against Chelsea by setting his sights on reclaiming the England jersey for next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia.

James was at fault for Frank Lampard's winning strike at Stamford Bridge when he failed to prevent the midfielder's 20-yard drive from going in.

Although James managed to get a hand on Lampard's shot, the ball squirmed beneath him and into the net to gift Chelsea a 1-0 win that put the Blues back on top of the Barclays Premier League.

It was the last thing James wanted with England coaches Steve McClaren and Terry Venables watching in the stands but the 37-year-old Pompey keeper does not believe it will harm his chances of taking the international shirt off Tottenham's Paul Robinson.

James said: 'Frank did what Frank always does which is shoot well on target from distance. Which unfortunately for Portsmouth was the winning goal, so not good.

'There was a deflection but I could not understand how the goal went in. I thought I had done everything right.

'But the deflection would explain why it went under my hand and not on my hand. It was just frustrating really as we had contained Chelsea very well up to that point.

'Had I not been involved in the last squad then there would not have been any questions or much issue about what went on at Chelsea. Every professional who wants to be at the top level has got to expect that. It is par for the course in some respects.

'I wanted to get back into the national side because I want to play at the top level. So when you do that, you put yourself under the microscope in every game.'

James has every chance of winning the shirt from Robinson following the Spurs keeper's error for Germany's first goal in their 2-1 win over England last Wednesday night.

Bernd Schneider's cross from the right wing caught out Robinson at the near post and the England stopper could only palm the ball on to the bar where it fell for a grateful Kevin Kuranyi to score.

But James knows such crosses are difficult to deal with and has every sympathy with his rival for the England jersey.

James added: 'It reminded me of the one time it happened to me years ago against Plymouth.

'The guy appeared to be putting a cross in but it swung towards the near post. It is not an easy ball to deal with. You don't expect it. The play suggests he would whip it out towards the penalty spot or something. It is very tricky to deal with.

'You do hurt because you are underneath the scrutiny of millions and it is very hurtful but you have to get past it.

'You can't expect to go through a long career at any level without making mistakes. The higher up you are the more people are going to see it. In some respects it is the test of someone's character.'

Now James would love the chance to be number one for the crucial qualifiers against Israel and Russia after getting to play at the new Wembley for 45 minutes against Germany.

He added: 'My aim was just to get back into the squad. I didn't expect to play. It was a dream come true.

'What happens with the next squad, we will have to see but to play at Wembley in a qualifier, would be another dream come true,' he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.