Glenn Hoddle's team are keen to secure their position as one of the top eight seeds, and thus not face another leading nation in the first round. Seedings will be the responsibility of the 28-man Organising Committee administered by Fifa, world football's ruling body.
One member of the committee is Sir Bert Millichip, the former Football Association chairman. He and his colleagues, including Scotland's David Will, must decide whether Fifa's world rankings will influence the seedings. England are currently ranked seventh, Scotland 27th.
Seedings at the 1994 World Cup were governed by performances at the last three finals. If the same applies this time, England, who did not qualify in '94, are unlikely to be among the top eight seeds.
The committee must also decide the fate of players who collected two yellow cards during the qualifiers but have not yet served a suspension. If, as expected, an amnesty is declared, the Tottenham defender Sol Campbell will be free to play in England's first game.
The Football Trust yesterday strongly opposed a suggestion by Manchester United's chief executive, Martin Edwards, that terracing might be re-introduced to top grounds in England and Scotland. The Football Trust's first deputy chairman, Richard Faulkner, said: "We would consider such a move a retrograde step by clubs in the top divisions."
A bone-scan yesterday revealed that Arsenal's French midfielder Emmanuel Petit does not have a broken ankle, and he could be back in action for the Premiership leaders inside two weeks. Petit was injured playing for his country against South Africa in a friendly on Saturday.
Alan Shearer was seen at Newcastle United's training ground without crutches yesterday for the first time this season, after badly injuring the ligaments and bone in his right ankle in a summer tournament at Goodison Park. However, the England striker does not expect an early return to action. "It probably won't be January and probably won't be February either," he said.
Reports in Buenos Aires that Manchester United have made a bid of pounds 13m for the Chilean striker Marcelo Salas, who scored a hat-trick against Peru on Sunday, have been denied by his Argentine club, River Plate.Reuse content