Damien Johnson last night slammed claims that he set out to earn a booking when playing for Northern Ireland against England on March 27 so that he would be suspended for a match away to Poland four days later.

Alan Green, who was commentating on the match for BBC Radio 5 Live, said on air that a source had told him that that Johnson, the Birmingham City midfield player, would be booked. A booking would mean Johnson would avoid the trip to Warsaw.

Johnson was shown the yellow card for kicking the ball away in the 50th minute of Northern Ireland's 4-0 defeat to England and Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, is incensed with Green's comments.

Bruce has written to Green to express his disappointment over his comments. Legal action has not been ruled out. Johnson is equally upset that Green has made such accusations, which he strongly refutes.

"I never heard about the comments until the gaffer [Bruce] told me that Alan Green had hammered me and insinuated things on the radio," Johnson said.

"If I had heard it myself, I probably would have been more angry. I am not having that. It is disappointing he has said it. I would never get deliberately booked to miss a game.

"Alan Green has said he heard that was the case from 'an insider'. I can just chuckle on about it because it is so absurd. But for that to be thrown at you is not nice.

"The gaffer is really angry. The punters listen to Alan Green and he says controversial things but I'm disappointed he has come out with that."

Bruce, whose Birmingham team drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, was more animated and less eager to let Green off the hook. "I have written to Alan Green to tell him of my huge disappointment."

Jermaine Pennant, who returned to the Birmingham team after spending a month at Woodhill Prison for driving offences, has spoken of "the wake-up call" of life behind bars.

" It was like living through my worst nightmare," Pennant said. "On the way [to prison], I started to think about all the people who might have been in the van before me - terrorists, murderers, rapists, and paedophiles. I felt like I was one of them.

"I would see the sky through the prison bars and it made me wonder how much I had lost. It was the worst experience I have known. But it was great when Steve Bruce came offer support. I realised there could be a life for me when I got out. On the Thursday, my cell door opened and an officer said, 'get rid, go on'. I felt like I had been given a new life."