Football: Problems mount for Hoddle

ENGLAND will be flying light when they take off from Luton Airport this morning after another five players were ruled out through injury yesterday.

Hoddle's original 26-man squad has now lost nine players, one short of the record 10 against Mexico last season, and there are still two training days to go before Wednesday night's friendly with Switzerland in Berne.

David Beckham and Nicky Butt both withdrew with calf injuries leaving Teddy Sheringham, who himself admits he is feeling tired, the sole survivor of seven Manchester United players selected. Also out are Graeme Le Saux (ankle), the uncapped Ray Parlour (hamstring) who will be especially upset, and Tony Adams who, in a cruel irony, "tweaked" his ankle in training at Bisham Abbey.

Hoddle will name some replacements today but they are as likely to be from the under-21 squad, which has only lost Darren Huckerby, as from outside. The under-21s had been reinforced with older players like Trevor Sinclair and Jamie Redknapp. That pair, and perhaps Frank Lampard, could step up while Stuart Pearce or Jason Wilcox may be brought in. But perhaps the most useful addition would be Eileen Drewery, Hoddle's faith healer.

The litany of injuries cast a slight shadow over Hoddle's hinted plan to pair Michael Owen and Alan Shearer together in Berne. Owen, said Hoddle, had "taken his breath away" at times this season. It was not just in his goalscoring either, Hoddle described his appreciation of play as "fantastic". Praise indeed from a coach who hands it out carefully.

However, including three England appearances at various levels the 18- year-old has already played 41 games this season, far more than Liverpool intended, and Robbie Fowler's injury means he will continue to carry the attack for the rest of the season. Add in four of the five planned England friendlies and you are looking at a total of 53 games before a possible seven-match World Cup programme even starts.

It is a lot of matches at the sharp end of the team for someone who had only played one Premiership match before this season. Rio Ferdinand, another talented teenager but one with more experience, said he had suffered a dip in form around the New Year and Owen is sure to struggle to retain his effervescent sharpness until mid-July. He was beginning to look jaded when the England call came and provided a timely injection of energy.

Hoddle is aware of the dangers but, like Roy Evans, feels he has to play Owen. "His next task is to play 40 games a season and see in how many of them he can play to a high level," the England coach said. "With his physique that might be a problem for him." Maybe the best thing that could happen to Owen is a slight strain, something that puts him out for four weeks with no after-effects.

He and Shearer still have to work on their partnership but, if Owen can stay fresh, it could prove as exciting in practice as in theory. Owen's pace, and his ability to go wide, would appear to complement Shearer's strength and aerial ability well.

While both are exceptional finishers neither are quite the selfish goalscorer of the Clive Allen, Gary Lineker mould. Shearer is more inclined towards that but, as he would be the senior partner, that would not be a problem. Let us hope neither pulls a muscle getting on the plane.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment