Football: Hoddle's full-metal work-out

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The Independent Online
Glenn Hoddle introduced five new men to his England squad at Bisham Abbey yesterday - all metal, and linked together to form a wall.

The man whose free-kicks are the stuff of footballing legend then oversaw a practice session in which Matt Le Tissier, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Gascoigne and several others worked on bending the ball around the obstacle and into a net tended by the reserve keeper, Ian Walker.

As he prepares for his second match as England manager, Hoddle is getting to grips with the crucial details of the job. "Just spending 15 minutes a day practising free-kicks, can, at this level, win you the game," he said. "That can be the little bit of difference that you need."

The little bit of difference that he has needed to switch from club to national management is something Hoddle says he has learnt very quickly.

"This is all about getting it right on the night, not necessarily keeping a set of supporters happy about how you play, making it attractive, whatever. That is the difference between club management and international management. You have to win the match - first."

Whether that objective on Wednesday would require the services of Matt Le Tissier was something upon which Hoddle refused to be drawn. "I don't feel that there's a now or never. I knew Matt wasn't playing particularly well at the beginning of the season. But I saw things in the games that I watched that, if he had had different movement ahead of him, the ball would have gone and it would have been probably on a plate.

"The movement wasn't quite there and he got dispossessed on numerous occasions and everyone comes down and says he's not playing so well. But, as soon as he got to the training ground at the first get-together, he hit three or four balls that only he could hit.

"You have to look at things you feel that you are going to come across at international level. It's a different way of working for me now."

Of the squad's two walking wounded, both from Liverpool, Dominic Matteo was able to do some light training yesterday but Hoddle said that, as far as the chances of Robbie Fowler being fit in time were concerned, "time is not going to on our side."