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Rio Could Be England Midfield Option

Sat 25 Feb, 9:09 AM


Sven-Goran Eriksson will study Rio Ferdinand's ability as an emergency midfielder in the next three months.

The England boss is still keen to develop the option of a midfield with a defensive screener.


Ledley King started in the role on England's last outing against Argentina and Ferdinand has been used recently as a midfielder by Manchester United.


Eriksson said: "In some games maybe we need a sitting midfielder. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard can do it but they are not playing that role at their clubs.


"Rio could be a choice. Ledley King is another choice. Michael Carrick another who is playing better and better.


"It depends how many times Rio plays in that role for Manchester United but it might be possible."


Sir Alex Ferguson's United team is short of midfielders after long-term injuries to Alan Smith and Paul Scholes and Roy Keane's transfer to Celtic.


Eriksson's usual surplus of central defenders has been hit by doubts about the World Cup chances of Sol Campbell and Jonathan Woodgate and both are among several injury victims who will miss England's friendly against Uruguay on Wednesday - the last game before Eriksson names his final 23-man squad for Germany.


Eriksson, speaking at Nationwide's launch to England's World Cup countdown, said: "I talked to Sol and we discussed the World Cup.


"He wants to be there and I am happy about that because a fit Sol Campbell is always very good to have on your side.


"He is a rock when he is physically fit and I think he will do everything to be available for the World Cup. It might be his last World Cup as well as mine.


"The first thing is that he must start to play for Arsenal, otherwise I can't pick him. You can't gamble. You have to be quite sure they are fit. Otherwise you might end up with a big problem."


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident Campbell will prove his fitness in time.


Wenger said: "In the short-term, I cannot use him but for Sven, in the longer term, I do not think there will be any problem.


"At the moment I do not think he will be out for a long time, but it is very difficult to say."


Eriksson names his squad today for the game at Anfield and wants to start the game with his strongest possible team.


That means Ferdinand at the back with John Terry, and Gary Neville returning for his country after missing the last five internationals through injury.


With Michael Owen injured, Eriksson will look at different partners for Wayne Rooney and that could mean caps for Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch and a possible debut for Charlton's Darren Bent.


Talking of his four World Cup strikers, Eriksson said: "I hope to have Rooney and Owen up front. They are the first choice as I see things.


"Crouch will probably be in the squad. He is different and good to have on the pitch or on the bench. Then it is up to the players to show who is going to be the fourth one."


Eriksson has his World Cup 23 in his mind but he knows it can all change.


He said: "Injuries are the biggest problem we might have and you can't do anything about it so every time I see one of the players going down, you are scared."


The Swede promised Shaun Wright-Phillips a World Cup place if the Chelsea winger plays enough clubs game in the next three months.


Eriksson said: "I want him to play now and then. He doesn't need to play every game but he must have a certain amount of games otherwise it's difficult.


"I am sure Shaun Wright-Phillips will be in the World Cup squad because I think he will play often for Chelsea."


Eriksson refused to speculate on who might replace him when he leaves his job after the World Cup finals.


But he admitted he is disappointed never to lead England into a game at Wembley, because of the latest delay to the new stadium.


Eriksson said: "It's a pity. It would have been nice but I hope to sit on that bench with another team one day. I have no idea if it will be a club or an international team."



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"It depends how many times Rio plays in that role for Manchester United but it might be possible."



A snapshot of why Sven is such a mediocre manager


"If Fergie thinks he can play that role then he must be considered there for England" Why not actually make your own mind up and decide right now what you want to do. Play Michael Carrick there, who's been in superb form all season

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What the hell is wrong with the English players we have that currently play in that position.




Good job I don't care.


I've seen parker a few times this season and while he's been very good, he's been charging all over the pitch. Carrick's the one holding and he's impressed me too. The one who wants dropping from the england squad is Jenas. Get him out

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Totally agree Paddy. Spain for me this summer.


Couldn't give a toss about in-gur-land. The gerrard saga has left a very bitter taste in my mouth with them.


Shame that the republic aren't going so I can support my the team of my ancestors.

Edited by Spike Starski
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Benitez puts onus on Sven to rest busy Gerrard


Mark Ogden and Paul Wilson

Sunday February 26, 2006

The Observer


Steven Gerrard will play the fortysixth game of his marathon of a season when he leads Liverpool out against Manchester City at Anfield today, and his forty-seventh in the same stadium on Wednesday if, as expected, he is in the England team for the friendly against Uruguay. Should his mind and body continue to take the strain and should Liverpool and England keep winning, he has a long way to go yet: the World Cup final on 9 July, if England play in it, could be Gerrard's seventy-sixth appearance of a 13-month campaign.


Seventy-six games is the equivalent of two complete Premiership seasons in one, yet Gerrard, arguably England's finest midfielder, is unlikely to have much of a rest between now and the World Cup.


Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez cannot tell his captain to take a breather while his team continue to push on three fronts, the Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup. Injuries to Bolo Zenden and Mohamed Sissoko, the two men able to cover for Gerrard on the right and in the centre of midfield, have made it impossible for Benitez to even contemplate easing his player's workload.


Instead, Benitez has shifted the onus on to Sven-Goran Eriksson to consider the 25-year-old's wellbeing. He said: 'I don't want to give Eriksson advice because he is experienced and he knows, but he must think about it. He must say, "I know this is a key player for us and maybe I don't need him playing two games every week." If you want to have your squad at their best at the end of the season, maybe you need to rest some of them now. You don't need to see some players every time. It is best to think about what is best for them. The manager [sven] must use this analysis.'


The dead leg that led to Gerrard starting last Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League defeat against Benfica on the substitutes' bench has improved sufficiently for him to face City today, but his workload for the next 10 days is demanding. City today, England on Wednesday and Charlton next weekend before the second leg against Benfica. Four tough games to test any lingering injuries.


The Uruguay game is the last opportunity for experiment before the World Cup squad is announced on 15 May, and the faint hopes of Anton Ferdinand, Joey Barton, Nigel Reo-Coker and Kevin Nolan have effectively been dashed. The in-form Charlton striker Darren Bent is in the squad and is expected to play at least part of the game alongside Wayne Rooney.


Eriksson and several other leading coaches are unhappy with having to name their squads three weeks before the tournament starts and will be lobbying Fifa next month to put back the date by a fortnight.


Eriksson, who will be at Loftus Road on Tuesday to watch World Cup opponents Trinidad take on Iceland, says he has absolutely no preference over the identity or nationality of his successor. He will leave after the World Cup and was quoted recently giving the impression that Guus Hiddink had his backing, but now says he was set up by Swedish journalists.


'I was in a restaurant with my family when someone took a photograph with a camera disguised as a pack of cigarettes,' Eriksson said. 'Then someone told me Hiddink had got the job, so I said, "Good luck to him." That was all.'


Poor old Sven, set up in two countries. Either journalists are the same the world over, or the England manager is an easy target.


England squad:

Robinson (Tottenham), Green (Norwich), James (Man City), Young Charlton), Bridge (Chelsea), Terry Chelsea), Brown (Man Utd), Ferdinand Man Utd), King (Tottenham), G Neville Man Utd), Carragher (Liverpool), Lampard Chelsea), Beckham (Real Madrid), Gerrard Liverpool), J Cole (Chelsea), Jenas (Tottenham), Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Carrick Tottenham), Richardson (Man Utd), D Bent Charlton), Rooney (Man Utd), Crouch (Liverpool), Defoe (Tottenham).

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