Football / FA Cup Final: Adams' final ambition poses threat to England: Arsenal captain determined to play through injury at Wembley but may miss England's US tour

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

TONY ADAMS captains Arsenal at Wembley today but could be the next player to pull out of England's important trip to the United States in June for World Cup preparation.

Adams is determined to play in the World Cup qualifiers in Poland on 29 May and in Norway on 2 June and does not want to admit there is a possibility of withdrawing through injury for a tournament in which England play Germany, Brazil and the host nation.

Lazio have already barred Paul Gascoigne, Liverpool's John Barnes has dropped out while Adams's team-mate, the goalkeeper David Seaman, will also stay at home to recover from double-hernia surgery this summer.

Adams is likely to be a major doubt because of a deep-seated groin injury which has restricted his training to a bare minimum in recent weeks and caused manager George Graham to omit him from three of Arsenal's last four Premier League games.

'It is not too bad, but it aches after matches and I have to be a bit sensible in training,' Adams said. 'I can't go sliding into tackles, but it makes me a better player, the boss reckons. I stay on my feet a bit more.

Adams has been a key figure in the Arsenal defence, scoring goals in the quarter-final against Ipswich and the semi-final against Tottenham which helped take his team to the final.

'It has got to be sorted out some time but I don't know if I'll need an operation. I'm no judge of injuries, I'm just happy to leave that to our physio Gary Lewin and the club doctor,' he said.

Adams had hernia surgery last season after playing in pain for three months before Arsenal were knocked out of the European Cup by Benfica. He was admitted to hospital immediately after that game and was out for a month.

'I'm not thinking any further ahead than the Cup final right now. We've already beaten Wednesday in the Coca-Cola final and booked our place in Europe, but it doesn't mean the pressure to win today is any less. The club demands it, the manager demands it and the fans demand it.

'We've already put one trophy on the sideboard which makes it a good season, but putting another one there will make it a great season.

'We've been disappointed by our performance in the Premier League, but two trophies out of three can't be bad.'

Lifting the FA Cup would be something special to the 26-year-old centre-half described by manager Graham as 'a collossus', idolised by the Highbury fans and yet branded a footballing 'donkey' by his critics.

It is the only trophy to elude him since he came into the Arsenal side at 17, since when he has won two League titles and two League Cups.

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