Football: Redknapp and Matteo double up for England

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S depleted squad arrived in Swit- zerland yesterday having decided to overcome the problems of injuries caused through too much football by asking two players to be involved twice in 24 hours.

Jamie Redknapp and Dominic Matteo, already members of tonight's under- 21s-plus-oldies squad, will also be on the bench for tomorrow's senior match in the Wankdorf Stadium. This is unlikely to be enthusiastically received at Liverpool, who seem to lose Redknapp - who will play as a sweeper tonight - to injury whenever he is involved in the England set- up.

The move increases the full party, who have suffered nine withdrawals, to 19 including three goalkeepers, although Andy Hinchcliffe, the only full-back in the party, is still doubtful with lingering problems from his Achilles injury.

"It's frustrating," Glenn Hoddle, the England coach, said. "We seem to get it more than anyone, but they are all legitimate injuries. It could be even worse next time."

Next time is the home game with Portugal on 22 April. Unlike this week that will be preceded by a full Premiership programme with six possible squad players involved in the Liverpool-Coventry match on the Sunday before the international. "Portugal is a very important match," Hoddle said. After it England will only have a home match with Saudi Arabia and two games in Casablanca against Morocco and Belgium before the World Cup.

Hoddle said the injuries meant he would have to bring forward an experiment he had planned for later. This could mean playing Dion Dublin at the back, or a pair of attacking players, such as Rob Lee and Steve McManaman, in the wing-back roles. Finally, thinking positively, he added: "It means a chance for someone else. At least - apart from Robbie Fowler - these are all injuries which have time to heal before the summer."

This change of mood reflected Hoddle's own preaching. He had been in his pastoral mode on Sunday night, counselling Tony Adams, who is troubled by a sore back and a recurrence of his ankle injury.

"He was very down," Hoddle said. "It was a big blow after all the problems he has had. We had a long chat with him and he left us feeling much more upbeat and positive.

"We have put him on a 10-day programme using weights and stretching exercises which is as much preventative as recuperative. He has to get hold of the reins, but I've told him there is no reason why he cannot come back."

Indeed, Adams is likely to play for Arsenal as early at Saturday's home game with Sheffield Wednesday.

Hoddle must have been tempted to head straight for the headquarters of the Red Cross when the party touched down in Basle yesterday, but instead the coach and his squad headed for their hotel via a two-hour journey through wintry countryside.

They are the first England team to visit Berne since 1954 when the team were competing in a World Cup rather than just playing for places in one. A side including Billy Wright, in his first game at centre-half, Tom Finney and Tommy Taylor beat the Swiss hosts 2-0 with goals from the Wolverhampton Wanderers' pair, Jimmy Mullen and Dennis Wilshaw.

Wolves had a trio of representatives in that game and in a further illustration of the transitory nature of football, Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town, Portsmouth and Preston North End provided five other players.

There was one link with the current side in that the centre-forward, Ivor Broadis, came from Newcastle but, in a further departure from the present day, Manchester United were able to provide two injury-free players - Taylor and Roger Byrne.