UNDER-21`S LOSE MORRIS TO COURT

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THE SURPRISING decision to leave Jody Morris out of England's Under-21s European Championship squad was revealed to be because of the Chelsea man's forthcoming court case.

It was widely expected that The Blues midfielder would be named in Howard Wilkinson's 20-man squad for the tournament that is due to be held in Slovakia as a prelude to the main event in Holland and Belgium.

But having been accused of causing actual bodily harm to a 23-year-old man after a night out in December, Morris' court case is due between May 27th and June 4th, in the middle of the tournament.

Wilkinson was forced to rule out Leeds duo Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer for the same reason as they face charges of causing grevious bodily harm to a Asian student outside a Leeds nightclub in January.

The England Under-21 manager said: "Jody Morris has a pending court case which threatens to appear in the middle of these championships so, given all sorts of considerations, it was decided to be in everybody's best interests to omit him.

"I left it as late as possible - he is a key player - but it was a decision I had to make."

Earlier in the season Morris was warned by Chelsea Chairman Ken Bates in the club programme to calm down and show some maturity which the player said he had learned from.

However there are conclusions to be drawn from the squad that Wilkinson made with six major players missing in Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Kieron Dyer and Richard Wright, all of which could find themselves in the senior squad.

Wilkinson said: "Kevin and I have discussed at length the selection of the squad.  The fundamental point is that any player who in any way, shape or form might appear in the championships in Holland and Belgium would not come into consideration for this squad.

"Having said that, it's not inconceivable that two or three of this squad, in extenuating circumstances, might.  This team is thought to provide minimum risk as far as the first team's opportunities are concerned.

"Jamie Carragher, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Lee Hendrie have all proved themselves as Premiership and international players and I have spoken to them and explained the situation to them. In some respects I've had some good news and bad news for players."