English the last word on Vialli's team

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The Independent Online

WHEN CONSIDERING which game to watch on Saturday afternoon ahead of the forthcoming internationals against Luxembourg and Poland, Kevin Keegan presumably did not take long rejecting Selhurst Park, where at three o'clock there were precisely four players on the pitch qualified to represent England.As only one of them (Dennis Wise) was in the white shirt of Chelsea, it was all the more surprising to hear their manager, Gianluca Vialli, later proposing greater representation in Premiership squads for the English; about as likely, in fact, as Gordon Taylor suggesting that the domestic game really would be enriched by importing a few more cheap Bulgarians.

WHEN CONSIDERING which game to watch on Saturday afternoon ahead of the forthcoming internationals against Luxembourg and Poland, Kevin Keegan presumably did not take long rejecting Selhurst Park, where at three o'clock there were precisely four players on the pitch qualified to represent England.As only one of them (Dennis Wise) was in the white shirt of Chelsea, it was all the more surprising to hear their manager, Gianluca Vialli, later proposing greater representation in Premiership squads for the English; about as likely, in fact, as Gordon Taylor suggesting that the domestic game really would be enriched by importing a few more cheap Bulgarians.

Had the fierce sun got to Vialli's shaven head? No, he seemed sincere enough in suggesting that the number of substitutes should be increased, as in European competition, to seven, two of whom should be aged under 21 and would normally, therefore, be English. Not that they would find it any easier to break into the Chelsea team, as the gifted young midfielder Jody Morris is finding this season. On Saturday he was given two minutes as replacement for Didier Deschamps, while Chris Sutton got a quarter of a game.

The intention, to be fair, was that after being rested in Riga, where Chelsea qualified for the Champions' League on Wednesday, their £10m striker would start on Saturday. He has been worried by a problem with his foot, however, which will need further investigation before he can join up with the England squad this week.

Chelsea's performance was again a good advertisement for footballing multi-culturalism. On this occasion it was won by an eastern European (Dan Petrescu), who had been set up by a South American (Gustavo Poyet), the pair of them vying strongly with an Italian (Gianfranco Zola) to be named man of the match.

Wimbledon had no contenders, for as one-nil games go, this was a massacre. As the fourth Premiership club with a foreign coach, in Egil Olsen, they are increasingly looking abroad for players, but in a different price- range to Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. Thus Walid Badir, an Israeli international, was given a debut in midfield while Tore Pedersen formed a central defensive pairing with his Norwegian compatriot Trond Andersen.

Although the flow of goals conceded - 13 in the previous five games - was reduced to a single one by Petrescu 12 minutes from time, that was due mainly to good fortune, last-ditch defending and the failure of the officials to see Kenny Cunningham handle a high cross, which should have brought a sixth penalty against them in as many matches. Olsen was honest enough to admit: "We met a better team and deserved to lose. It could happen that we struggle but I like the spirit here and in my opinion we will survive."

Vialli likes it here, too. "The English game is wonderful," he said. "You play Manchester United, who play a certain type of football, then you play Wimbledon, who play a totally different kind. But if want to be successful, you've got to be able to cope with different styles."

Chelsea's cosmopolitan crew are coping, and then some - this win puts them in third place behind Aston Villa and Manchester United, with games in hand on both.

Goal: Petrescu (78) 0-1.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Pedersen (Kimble, h-t), Andersen, Thatcher; Badir (Euell, 65), Roberts, Earle (Leaburn, 75), Hughes; Cort, Gayle. Substitutes not used: Ainsworth, Davis (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Babayaro; Petrescu (Ambrosetti, 80), Wise, Deschamps (Morris, 88), Poyet; Flo (Sutton, 67), Zola. Substitutes not used: Hogh, Cudicini (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Bookings: Wimbledon: Thatcher, Hughes, Euell.Chelsea: Leboeuf, Wise.

Man of the match: Petrescu.

Attendance: 22,167.

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