Football: Anderton and Le Saux gain entry to the Venables elite: New England coach takes the broom to eight of Taylor's men and puts out the welcome mat to flair players

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The Independent Online
FOR a man who stands accused of all manner of extravagance, he was the model of economy. Terry Venables' first England squad comprised a team, instead of the time-honoured 22 players, and he has dispensed with the team psychologist and goalkeeping guru who were among his predecessor's vast entourage.

Quality rather than quantity was the order of the day, the new coach reasoning that if he could not pick a winning side from the best 18 players in the country, the next four were unlikely to make much difference.

Venables was happy with 'the elite', as he called them - confident that they would get him off to a decent start when Denmark come to Wembley in eight days' time.

No Carlton Palmers to baffle all and sundry. Instead the new broom has swept out much of the debris from the World Cup shambles, while retaining enough of the old guard for his first offering to resemble that sought-after blend of potential and experience beloved of managers everywhere.

In trimming the squad to 18, he has jettisoned a full team. Apart from the unlamented Palmer, out from the 22 with whom Taylor bad farewell against San Marino go Tony Coton, Lee Dixon, Tony Dorigo, Trevor Steven, Andy Sinton, Lee Sharpe, Ian Wright, Nigel Clough, Paul Merson and Stuart Ripley. In all but a couple of borderline cases, we can safely assume the message is: 'Thank you and goodnight.'

The door closing on yesterday's men opens for six players who missed the last rites of the World Cup campaign. Rob Jones and David Batty were never far from Taylor's thoughts, but the others might have been on Mars as far as the old regime were concerned.

Peter Beardsley, pensioned off ridiculously early nearly three years ago, is back at 33 as godfather to three hugely-gifted young players who, to Taylor's discredit, possess not a single cap between them.

Lip service was paid to Matthew Le Tissier's rare talent when he was included in the squad, but never used. A second Channel Islander, Graeme Le Saux, and Darren Anderton gain recognition for the first time.

To complete the roll call, Chris Waddle would have been back had he managed to demonstrate his recovery from tendinitis, and the free-scoring Andy Cole and Chris Sutton came as close as it is possible to get.

Venables chose from a short list of 10 strikers - 'I'd have been happy picking any of them' - and said there was 'hardly anything between' six goalkeepers. Unlike Taylor, a belt and braces man, he was happy with just two: Tim Flowers and David Seaman.

The selection process had not been easy, he said. There were 50 players he would love to have accommodated but he had been determined to restrict himself to 18. 'The fewer players we've got in the group, the easier it will be for me to get to know them.' The number was not cast in stone. 'As time goes on, I may want to add a few younger players to get them used to the international scene.'

Two of the new intake can expect to savour the Wembley atmosphere from the pitch, rather than the substitutes' bench, next week. Venables has been much impressed by the progress Le Saux has made with Blackburn Rovers this season, and is likely to prefer him at left-back to Stuart Pearce, whose retention was one of the few surprises.

An even better bet for his first cap is Anderton, who probably owes his place in the squad to the unfitness of Waddle, the winger he so closely resembles.

Venables paid Portsmouth pounds 1.7m to take Anderton to Tottenham, and is more convinced than ever that the momey was well spent. 'He had a terrific season last year, and has continued to improve. He's got stronger, and he is contributing more.

'People talk about adaptability, and here is a guy who can play out wide, tuck inside, play up front all over the pitch, with a roving commission. He has a good range of passing, crossing and finishing, and he's got that ability to pick out the right pass very early. He gets half a yard on his man and puts over an early cross which is invaluable to a striker. He doesn't check back unnecessarily. Oh, and he is a good dead-ball kicker, too.'

That's one name on the team sheet, then. We can also fill in Beardsley's - and in ink rather than pencil. 'Peter has had an excellent season,' Venables said. 'He's a very fit lad, and he's done remarkably well for Newcastle, helping young Cole enormously. He's an accomplished player who brings the best out of others, and he is scoring goals. He deserves to be in.'

The injured Waddle, too, will be back. 'I would have liked to have had Chris involved for many reasons. He thinks about things - he's a student of the game - and he would help to bring on Anderton and others. He is the sort of influence we need.'

In the old shuffler's absence, Anderton is earmarked for the provider's role, just ahead of Le Tissier who, at 25, must be aware that it is high time he sustained his form long enough to fulfil all that promise.

'I've always had admiration for the way he plays,' Venables said, 'but, like a lot of talented players, he gets excited by the big games and not so much by the lesser ones. He may respond to the international stage. We won't know until we try him.'

Le Saux and Le Tissier, Beardsley and Anderton - flair players, all. Had the squad been selected with the obligation to entertain in mind?

Hmmm. A bit of a googly for a coach more familiar with the offside trap than the third forward. 'I don't think it's to do with entertaining,' he said. 'It is to do with having imagination, but we're not there to play pretty football. We're there to score goals, and that may involve long balls, short balls, or a mixture of both. Whatever it takes, we must be positive and get the ball forward quickly if we can.'

Close your eyes and it could have been you-know-who speaking, but a glance at the new names brought welcome reassurance. The squad has all the makings. Wembley expects.

----------------------------------------------------------------- VENABLES' FIRST SELECTION ----------------------------------------------------------------- Age Caps Seaman (Arsenal) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 12 Flowers (Southampton) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 1 Parker (Man Utd) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 18 Jones (Liverpool) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 2 Pearce (Nottm Forest) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 55 Le Saux (Blackburn) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 - Adams (Arsenal) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 28 Pallister (Man Utd) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 12 Walker (Sheff Wed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 59 Anderton (Tottenham) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 - Gascoigne (Lazio) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 28 Ince (Man Utd) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 12 Batty (Blackburn) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 14 Platt (Sampdoria) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 45 Le Tissier (Southampton) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 - Shearer (Blackburn) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 7 Ferdinand (QPR) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 6 Beardsley (Newcastle) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 49 -----------------------------------------------------------------

CHANGES FROM GRAHAM TAYLOR'S LAST SQUAD (v San Marino, Nov 1993)

OUT: Coton (Manchester City); Dixon (Arsenal); Dorigo (Leeds); Palmer (Sheff Wed); Steven (Rangers); Sinton (Sheff Wed); Sharpe (Manchester Utd); Wright (Arsenal); Clough (Liverpool); Merson (Arsenal); Ripley (Blackburn).

IN: Jones, Le Saux, Batty, Gascoigne, Anderton, Le Tissier, Beardsley.

Oldham v Leeds, page 35

(Photograph omitted)

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