Football: Savage returns for test against Tunisia

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The Independent Online
ROBBIE SAVAGE seems certain to be in the Wales side for their match with England's first World Cup opponents Tunisia today.

The Leicester midfielder was ruled out of the 3-0 win in Malta on Wednesday - a game played in front of just 3,000 fans on the holiday island. But the Tunis tussle will be very different. The game will be Tunisia's last match before they head for France and their game in Marseilles with England.

There will be 70,000 at the ground wanting to give their team a riotous send off and Gould said: "Tunisia will want to go to France on the back of victory, but for us it is important too. It's a great prestige match. They're England's first opponents in France and it would do us the world of good to get a good result against them."

Savage was left out in Malta because of a worrying groin injury and was forced to spend much of his time at the team hotel. Gould blooded a string of youngsters against the Maltese but will want a player of Savage's experience in his midfield.

Tunisia have looked impressive despite going down 2-1 to Austria and 3-2 to Chile in their previous two friendlies in France. The Africans will fly after the game to their French base to complete their preparations to play England.

Savage said: "The injury is OK now and it's fair to say that I could not have managed two games in four days."

Gould added: "We decided to keep him back for the big one. If he'd played against Malta, it's unlikely he would have made the Tunisia game.

"I've still to decide how many of the kids will play in this one. There's a few injuries to sort out and I'll also wait to see whether Steve Jenkins has got over an ankle injury he suffered while training in Malta."

The chances are that Craig Bellamy, who made such a fine impression on his first full match in Malta, will be retained in midfield, with Savage alongside him. However, Gould seems less likely to retain the 17-year- old Ryan Green against Tunisia's World Cup attackers.

WALES (v Tunisia, El Menzah Stadium, Tunis, today): Jones (Southampton) or Marriott (Wrexham), Ready (QPR), Green (Wolves), Coleman (Fulham), Savage (Leicester), Bellamy (Norwich), Speed (Newcastle), Pembridge (Sheff Wed), Trollope (Fulham), Hartson (West Ham), Saunders (Sheff Utd).