Football: Keegan plots harmonious strike

European Championship: England's coach believes Shearer and Cole can succeed against Poland at Wembley

THIS MORNING, during England's training session, Kevin Keegan will take Andy Cole and Alan Shearer aside and head off for a quiet goal area among Bisham Abbey's trio of manicured football pitches. Slowly he will then walk them through the movements which he hopes will unhinge Poland's defence in tomorrow's European Championship qualifier at Wembley.

Cole and Shearer, though both bought by Keegan for Newcastle, have never started a match together. Their only experience in harness is the last 25 minutes of England's defeat against France, by which time the service provided to the strikers was so poor as to render the exercise irrelevant. Nor, surprisingly, given the injuries to other forwards, have they worked specifically on the partnership this week. "That may surprise you," said Keegan, "but today is the first time I've been able to get everybody together in a session."

This morning, however, Keegan plans a getting-to-know-you session. He believes the pair could dovetail immediately but he knows it is not an exact science. "We have some talking to do tomorrow," he said. "I'll be going out and planting things in their minds. It won't be heavy, with lots of running and such, I'll walk them through it, tell them what might happen, what to expect from the Poles. They know they'll probably be man- marked which does not happen every day at league level.

"I'll make both aware they can't do exactly what they want, or have been doing at club level, but they both know that, they've been around. Andy will have been watching Alan for a long time, he will know what he is about and Alan will be the same. He'll know what Andy does and doesn't do well and vice-versa.

"I'm convinced they can click because they have quality and they are different. They are both goalscorers but they get their goals in totally different ways, the only thing in common is when they shoot - either the keeper makes a good save, or the net bulges. Their way of finding the net, of playing, holding the ball up, their strengths and some of their weaknesses, are different. They will provide options for wide players and through the midfield.

"It's not as if I've thrown two players together who are alike. What they do share is they both have character and a wanting to win. It is now a case of lighting the blue touchpaper and seeing what happens. That happens a lot at international level. Out of a problem comes an opportunity and two or three players will get opportunities to cement a place in an England squad for a long time to come."

Cole, in attack, and one or both of Ray Parlour and Tim Sherwood in midfield, may not be the only ones getting an unexpected opportunity. The goalkeepers, David Seaman and Nigel Martyn, have recovered but Tony Adams is suffering from what the coach described as "a little bit of flu". Having only trained at half-pace on Tuesday he missed both Wednesday and yesterday's session.

If Adams fails to recover Gareth Southgate, whose form has been affected by Aston Villa's collapsing season, or Rio Ferdinand, is likely to feature in a team Keegan expects to name today.

That, in itself, is a statement of intent. While Glenn Hoddle attempted to keep his team quiet to gain what he saw was every possible advantage, Keegan appears to be saying to Poland: `Here's my team, try and beat it - we don't fear you.' He added: "If we don't get a result I will get criticised for being too open, just as other managers have been criticised for being the opposite, but that's my way."

That attitude rubs off on players. Gary Neville, on his fourth England coach (caretakers included) at the age of 24, said: "He's very enthusiastic, very positive. He's always praising you which is great, players like that, it's important. The manager does it at Manchester United and it gives you a good feeling. He [Keegan] is also more friendly, he sits on the bus with us, things like that. Glenn Hoddle was positive and supportive and prepared us brilliantly but that is one of [Keegan's] great strengths."

To re-inforce the mood Keegan organised a motivational talk for the team last night. He said little about the speaker except he was Scottish, humourous, and it was `nothing weird'. Billy Connolly? Or Alex Ferguson?

Merry old Cole; Scots game off, page 26

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas