Euro `96: Southgate set to step forward for England

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The Independent Online
Gareth Southgate could move forward into midfield when England take on Scotland tomorrow, with David Platt probably kept out by a rib injury. Platt has not trained properly since the England squad reassembled on Monday night.

England will need reinforcements to aid Paul Gascoigne and Paul Ince in the centre, where they will confront Gary McAllister, Stuart McCall and John Collins. The options for the England coach, Terry Venables, are limited, his only alternative being Jamie Redknapp, who did not impress against China.

Southgate has taken to international football like a natural and before he joined Paul McGrath in the Aston Villa defence he had performed with great credit in Crystal Palace's midfield in their relegation season.

Pushing him forward would be a strong variation on the three-man defence Venables introduced for England, giving the option of either Southgate or Ince stepping into the back line at times of pressure.

There was better news for England with Darren Anderton returning in yesterday's single, but lengthy, training session at Bisham after struggling for the last two days with a sore hamstring. The Tottenham winger could switch to the left flank on Saturday, with Nottingham Forest's right-sided Steve Stone coming back into the side to add further solidity.

Steve McManaman has divided England followers between those impressed with his ability to take on and beat opponents, and those appalled at the quality of his crossing. Venables will want accurate service to a more orthodox front two, with Robbie Fowler his probable secret weapon alongside Alan Shearer. Anderton is comfortable on either flank and a rest might prove a godsend for the wrong-footed McManaman on the left.

Venables will tell his players today who will face the auld enemy, but again he will not tell his public until just before the match.

Scotland could pitch the Celtic full-back Tosh McKinlay into the match. He looks set to return to Craig Brown's line-up, if Scotland revert to a five-man defence against whatever opposition Venables selects.

Scotland's injury worries are clearing in time for the crucial confrontation, with Stewart McKimmie, John Collins and Gary McAllister all likely to be ready for selection. McKimmie, the Aberdeen defender who has been nursing a knee injury for some time, did not train yesterday.