Football: Keegan plays power game

Euro 2000: England coach pulls rank over Graham as he faces up to catalogue of injuries to squad

THEY LIMPED into Bisham Abbey yesterday, carrying their sick-notes and X-ray scans, England's finest. If it was anybody but Luxembourg in opposition on Saturday, it might be time to start worrying.

Darren Anderton and Rio Ferdinand have gone home. Sol Campbell, after a power struggle with Tottenham, arrived last night but will go back to White Hart Lane tomorrow. Jamie Redknapp is awaiting the results of a scan on an Achilles injury. A decision on David Seaman, without a match this season, will be made tomorrow. Tim Sherwood, Kieron Dyer and Alan Shearer have minor knocks and did not train yesterday. Michael Owen and Tony Adams are not match-fit. Steve McManaman is yet to start a game this season. Oh, and Paul Scholes is suspended.

Which leaves 15 fully fit and available players (one of whom is 37 years old). Among topics discussed at England's press conference yesterday was pre-match dressing-room music, the theme from M*A*S*H may be the most appropriate.

That tune is entitled "Suicide is Painless", should England commit the footballing equivalent at Wembley it will be anything but. However, even with their hotel resembling a scene from ER, England should have to enough quality to brush aside Luxembourg. Poland, in Warsaw next week, are a more daunting proposition and Keegan admitted yesterday that the injuries, and the difficulty of preparing simultaneously for two very different matches, was hampering his build-up.

A lack of support from some clubs has not helped and, however Keegan dressed it up, it was clear that there had been a sharp exchange of opinion with George Graham over the Sol Campbell situation.

Campbell, having been injured on opening day and not played since, was called up last week. Graham immediately withdrew the player and re-iterated his stance on Saturday. Keegan clearly decided it was time to let the Tottenham manager know just what an international coach's rights were and, after a pointed telephone conversation, Campbell joined the squad last night.

"We see it from different perspectives," Keegan said. "George is a Tottenham man, he's paid to look after Tottenham Hotspur. I told George that I'd phoned the player. He said: `You can't phone my players'. I said: `I can, I am not with Newcastle United now'. This morning we had half hour on the phone; we agreed to disagree.

"I do feel it is my right to have the players report for a big game like this. Sol is an important part of England's future. He felt he had a slight chance and he's such a good player that was enough for me. I'll be amazed if he can play but there are certain regulations that, if we don't stick to, might catch you out at other times."

Keegan stressed that he had a policy of not risking injured players but added: "It is a trust thing."

The dispute does not augur well for the future, especially as Keegan has tried hard not to alienate managers. For example, having potentially upset Alex Ferguson by dropping Andy Cole - a player whose game is dependent on confidence - he made the point of calling the Manchester United manager after Cole scored four against Newcastle on Sunday to suggest Ferguson send him a bottle of wine for the way his decision helped "motivate" Cole.

"It was a wonderful response from Cole," Keegan said. "It is what I tried to do when I got left out of the England squad by Bobby Robson. I think I scored four goals at Rotherham for Newcastle the Saturday after.

"But it's not as if I have suddenly become not-an-Andy Cole-fan. I've worked with Andy Cole. I picked him for my first two games. I told him I wanted to look at other options. He's 27 and the door is not closed unless he closes it."

One of those other options is Chris Sutton, who did close the door as far as Glenn Hoddle, Keegan's predecessor, was concerned when he refused to play for the B team 18 months ago. Now he is back and eager to show he's as patriotic as anyone else.

"Being here means everything to me," he said. "I can't do cartwheels to prove it but it does. At the time I thought it was the right thing to do but, looking back I regret it. I regret it because I'm 26 now and I've had nine minutes on the field [for England] but I could have had more. Maybe I was rash but I believed it was right. That's in the past now, I'm looking forward."

Sutton, of course, also has an injury but it is clearly not as serious as Gianluca Vialli suggested at the weekend. Not only has he passed a bone scan but his response to the question "which foot was it?" brought the answer, according to the FA's official stenographer: "Um, I can't remember - my right, yeah."

Fortunately Keegan's tactical instructions are not thought to be sophisticated.

Pearce grateful for chance, Republic seek vital advantage, page 22

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

£16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific