Football: Hoddle to keep faith with squad

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST name on the list, and the first name off it, are easy enough. So, in truth, are most of the rest. Once Glenn Hoddle has ensured Eileen Drewery is available, and reluctantly remembered that David Beckham is not, he will today ask the bulk of the France 98 squad to travel to Sweden next week for England's opening Euro 2000 qualifier.

While the wake of a World Cup is traditionally a time for changing the guard, Hoddle is unlikely to make such swinging cuts as Berti Vogts did last week. This is partly because his predominantly youthful squad is in less need of fresh talent than the Germans. Primarily, though, it is because the Stockholm tie, on 5 September, looks the most difficult encounter of England's qualifying campaign, not least because of England's customarily poor September form. After that match, the blooding of new faces can begin.

However, since Hoddle will name a large squad to cover for the inevitable injuries others will certainly force their way in. Five of the six discarded in La Manga have a chance of inclusion: Dion Dublin and Andy Hinchcliffe because of their good form; Nicky Butt because David Batty's five-match domestic suspension means his season has not yet begun; and Phil Neville and Ian Walker because of injuries to Gary Neville and Tim Flowers.

The latter two are not certainties as Walker, tainted by Tottenham's nightmare start, faces competition from Shaka Hislop, Kevin Pressman and Richard Wright, while Phil Neville is short of games.

The sixth rejected player has no chance of an early recall. Paul Gascoigne may be playing for Middlesbrough - on and off - but he does not look fit and does not appear to have changed his lifestyle. At present his powers look more suited to a testimonial than an international.

The two players who pulled out injured before La Manga's judgement day, Jamie Redknapp and Ian Wright, have a chance even though neither have played much. Hoddle is keen on both players and may like to have them involved even if they are unlikely to start.

Though Kevin Davies and Frank Lampard may come into the reckoning later in the campaign, the most likely new face at present is Darren Huckerby. If he is good enough to embarrass Marcel Desailly he ought to be good enough for England. Room could be made by dropping Teddy Sheringham, who only plays 20 minutes at a time for Manchester United these days, but Hoddle is unlikely to dump him immediately.

Dublin's inclusion may spell the end for Les Ferdinand but, with Beckham suspended following his red card in St Etienne, Rob Lee may survive for now even if he will not still be around come the finals. A younger alternative is Ray Parlour.

The build-up for the match will be enlivened by next week's planned serialisation of Tony Adams's autobiography in The Sun. The criticisms of Hoddle it is understood to contain are sure to be given a prominent airing.

Meanwhile, Drewery may be going to Sweden. When asked last week Hoddle refused to answer. Either way she is sure to be involved.

POSSIBLE SQUAD: Seaman, Martyn, Walker; Southgate, Campbell, Keown, Adams, Ferdinand R, Le Saux, Hinchcliffe; Ince, Redknapp, Butt, McManaman, Merson, Scholes, Lee, Anderton; Shearer, Sheringham, Owen, Dublin, Wright, Huckerby.

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