JOHN ALDRIDGE urged Jack Charlton not to make him his World Cup scapegoat after the failure against Egypt left the Republic of Ireland facing the prospect of an early plane home.
The former Liverpool striker is upset at being pulled off for the second match running during Sunday's goalless draw, which leaves Group F in a perfect stalemate.
Now he fears his barren international form could cost him his place in the crunch game against the Dutch this week.
"I never like being taken off; I didn't think I had done anything wrong and I would be gutted if I wasn't on the team-sheet on Thursday," he said yesterday.
Twice now Charlton has sent on Swindon midfielder Alan McLoughlin to perk up his lifeless attack, but Aldridge insists: "England was a bad game for every attacker, but I thought I was doing quite well against Egypt.
"I won every ball in the air and held it up well. I only played one bad pass all game.
"Jack said he took me off because I wasn't getting through the middle. If I had missed a couple of chances I would have held my hand up.
"But I don't think I did anything wrong. We are just not creating anything at the moment and it's worrying me a lot. "We’re just not getting there in front of goal. Over the last two games we haven't looked like scoring. I hope it will change against the Dutch.
"I'm just doing the job I'm asked to. All we need is a bit of luck.
"The Egyptians defended very well. They must have been frightened by us, because they didn't threaten us at all.
"It seemed like they had 12 people behind the ball in front of their goal most of the time, and I suppose they earned their point for their defensive work."
Charlton, like the Egyptians, astonishingly closed his camp in the wake of Sunday's game and refused to give a press conference as his players enjoyed a day round the pool with their wives and families.
But he clarified his position on Aldridge, saying: "John has not moaned to me about being taken off. I substituted him simply because I needed a fresh pair of legs and lungs on the pitch.
"I don't have to explain my actions, but John has worked hard enough for me to know that was the only reason."