Football: England aim to face Brazil at Wembley: European rehearsal in 1995

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BRAZIL, the new world champions, have been invited to give the England coach, Terry Venables, his first taste of competitive action next summer when the Football Association stages a dress rehearsal for Euro '96.

Japan, among the favourites to host the 2002 World Cup, are also expected to feature in a six-nation tournament which will be played at Wembley and some of the other venues involved in the following year's European Championship finals.

The FA has already banked pounds 3m in ticket sales for Euro '96 - before they are released to the general public - and the warm-up event should also generate massive income.

'We are very hopeful of the participation of Brazil and Japan,' Glen Kirton, director of Euro '96, said. 'It would also be attractive if we had another country from the British Isles and top nations from Europe and Africa.'

'Next summer's tournament (Euro '95) will be played over 10 days at the end of May and beginning of June and we want to use as many of the Euro '96 grounds as possible.'

England last faced Brazil in a pre-World Cup competition in Washington last year, drawing 1-1, and the plan for next summer is to have two groups of three with the winners meeting in the final.

'There are three major benefits of staging the tournament,' Kirton said. 'It will be a dress rehearsal for Euro '96, allow Terry Venables to play some competitive football and also allow Trevor Phillips (commercial director) to make some money for the FA]'

So far 100,000 tickets have been sold for Euro '96, even though they are chiefly restricted to club season ticket holders and England travel club members. 'Tickets for Euro '96 will go on general sale in October and we are hoping for a 98 per cent take- up - similar to the World Cup,' Kirton added.

Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, explained yesterday why he did not join the pursuit of Chris Sutton, who eventually signed for Blackburn Rovers. 'With Sutton, we were prepared to pay the price, because pounds 5m isn't a problem, but we withdrew when the whole package that would have gone with it, in our opinion, became too much.

'If I'd agreed to pay a 21- year-old who hadn't played for England the pounds 12,000 that has been quoted I would have had 10 guys knocking on my door saying that they were full internationals and that they wanted the same money.'

Brian Laudrup made a superb debut for his new club Rangers last night when he provided Mark Hateley with a 19th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Aalborg in a friendly in Denmark. Chelsea's pounds 2.3m signing, Paul Furlong, scored in a 1-0 victory over his former club, Watford, at Vicarage Road.