Absence makes Venables fonder of Spurs graduates

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The Independent Online
Once upon a time, players touted for international recognition would anxiously scan the directors box for a sight of the England manager. Not any more. After Terry Venables' latest England squad, they will be asking their chairmen to ban him from their grounds. Venables is presently barred from White Hart Lane because of his acrimonious legal battle with Alan Sugar, Tottenham's chairman, and has only seen the club play once - at West Ham - all season. Yet yesterday, the England coach picked four of his former charges in the squad to play the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin, next Wednesday.

Two of them, Nicky Barmby and Sol Campbell, are included for the first time, joining Darren Anderton and Teddy Sheringham. Venables, who has watched them regularly on video, said: "It seems they are better off with me not coming. If I don't go even more might get in."

There may be requests for further bans on Venables from Chris Sutton, Andy Cole and the rejuvenated Chris Waddle, all of whom have been ignored, but at least one of Sutton's Blackburn team-mates would not concur. Tim Sherwood has been included for the first time. Sherwood, 26 yesterday, has been improving for several years. The rise of Campbell, 20, and Barmby, 21 on Saturday, has been more rapid, both making their debuts only two seasons ago.

Both began as pupils of the Football Association's National School and there will be much delight within the FA at their progress. Though the school has produced a transfer record-breaker in Cole, it is yet to claim a full international among its old boys after 10 years in operation. "It is a terrific advertisement for the school," said Venables. "They always said when it started it would be a few years before there was any benefit. These are just two of six players from there who have made it into the Tottenham team."

Barmby's inclusion was expected. Campbell's is more of a surprise and many, recalling the chaotic state of Tottenham's defence earlier this season, will have echoed the player's own reaction of "I don't believe it." However, with the introduction of organisation and midfield cover at White Hart Lane, Campbell has flourished. He has always impressed when representing England - at a variety of levels and in a number of positions - most recently as a midfield anchor in the B international against the Republic.

Versatility is one of the attractions of both players. "They were like men as very young players," said Venables. "They are both knowledgeable about the game. Barmby is like [Peter] Beardsley. He is a footballer who can play anywhere. Campbell can also play in different positions. They are the type of all-round player we see abroad, and we talk about how we can develop them here."

Venables signed both for Tottenham and, as with the likes of Neil Ruddock and Teddy Sheringham there is little doubt that his familiarity with them has helped their cause. This, however, is not new - witness Graham Taylor's selection of Gordon Cowans andTony Daley, or Bobby Robson's long reliance on Terry Butcher - and neither is it neccesarily bad, as it means Venables can short-cut the process of integrating the player into his style.

Venables also picked out Warren Barton, the other uncapped player in the squad, as an all-rounder. Either Barton or Campbell appear certain to play as there is no other likely replacement for Rob Jones at right-back.

Jones is one of four Liverpool players who drop out because their club's Coca-Cola Cup semi-final first leg against Crystal Palace is on the same day. Venables said other Liverpool players, besides the four - Jones, Ruddock, John Barnes and Steve McManaman - would have been considered along with "two or three" Palace players.

Darren Anderton and Ian Wright return after injury, while Steve Howey, a late call-up for the last match, with Nigeria in November, retains his place. Tim Flowers and Stuart Pearce will have to prove they have recovered from injury to travel.

Barry Venison, injured for the last game, does not get a recall but he did get an honourable mention in dispatches. Sherwood appears to be in at his expense, with as Venables linking the two as "good early passers who give the receiver plenty of time". Sherwood also impressed in the B international which England won 2-0 with some ease. A repeat would be some achievement.

ENGLAND SQUAD (v Republic of Ireland, Dublin, 15 February): Seaman (Arsenal), Flowers (Blackburn); Barton (Wimbledon), Adams (Arsenal), Howey (Newcastle), Campbell (Tottenham), Pallister (Manchester Utd), Pearce (Nottigham Forest), Le Saux (Blackburn), Anderton (Tottenham), Lee (Newcastle), Sherwood (Blackburn), Ince (Manchester Utd), Platt (Sampdoria), Barmby (Tottenham), Wise (Chelsea), Beardsley (Newcastle), Le Tissier (Southampton), Wright (Arsenal), Ferdinand (QPR), Shearer (Blackburn), Sheringham (Tottenham).

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