Liverpool's Peter Crouch was the obvious man to benefit as England lost striker Andrew Johnson for their Euro 2008 qualifiers against FYR Macedonia and Croatia.

Head coach Steve McClaren was giving serious consideration to pairing the former Birmingham City striker with Wayne Rooney, who is guaranteed a place in the starting line-up.

However a hamstring injury Johnson sustained in the last minute of Everton's 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Saturday has ruled out the 25-year-old.

And now ex-Aston Villa forward Crouch, who has scored 11 goals in his 14 England appearances, seems certain to start alongside Rooney of Manchester United in Saturday's international against Macedonia, which is being staged at Old Trafford.

McClaren has had his head turned by the way Johnson has started his Everton career, hitting six goals in six games as the team bossed by David M oyes have remained unbeaten.

At the very least, McClaren intended to have Johnson braced for action from the bench, with the Toffees front-man apparently having inched in front of Tottenham's Jermain Defoe in the head coach's reckoning.

McClaren moved swiftly to promote Charlton striker Darren Bent from Peter Taylor's England Under-21 squad, but admitted his ranks had been weakened by the injury to Johnson.

McClaren said: "It's a real blow because he's made a massive impact already with Everton this season and I've been hugely impressed by him. He's got such a great attitude and is a constant threat to any defence.

"He was certainly knocking very hard on the door for a starting place in the team, so it's a disappointment to lose him.

"However, I've spoken to (England Under-21 boss) Peter Taylor and I can confirm that Darren Bent will now join the senior squad when we meet tomorrow.

"We're fortunate that we are able to call Darren up from the Under-21s. He's already got experience of being involved in several senior squads and he's a player with excellent ability and a real goal threat."

England play Macedonia at Old Trafford on Saturday, before travelling to face Croatia in Zagreb a week on Wednesday.

McClaren's side top Group E with six points after victories last month over Andorra and Macedonia, who will have revenge in mind on Saturday after losing 1-0 in Skopje in the first meeting between the teams.