Football: Terry's withdrawal gives Carragher half a chance

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The Independent Online
SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON will have to use his 13th central defensive pairing in just 12 months after John Terry pulled out of his squad yesterday leaving the Swede with the option of Jamie Carragher and Wes Brown to play against the Netherlands tomorrow.

It would be Carragher's first start for England since the pre-Euro 2004 friendly against Iceland and the Liverpool defender admitted that he could not recall playing in the same national team as Wes Brown since they were both in the under-21s.

The value of friendly matches at the business end of the season was called into question once again this weekend when Eriksson lost Rio Ferdinand, Matthew Upson, Ledley King and Terry to injury after they were named in the squad. Sol Campbell was already injured while Jonathan Woodgate has not played all season.

Wayne Bridge was also withdrawn from the team yesterday and Phil Neville has joined up as cover in the left-back position. However, Eriksson has only been able to select his first-choice defensive pairing of Campbell and Ferdinand twice since they played in the victory over Turkey in April 2003.

Carragher said: "England are very fortunate at the moment. I don't think there's another country that can match us in terms of centre-backs. Ashley Cole's displays at Euro 2004 were magnificent and when you look at what Gary Neville's done for England over the years, we've got to be proud defensively of the players we've got. I've just seen on television that Ledley has gone home. I wasn't aware of that," he admitted. "I don't want to see anyone get injured, but it gives me more of a chance of playing for England so you have to try and take it."

Below Carragher and Brown, Eriksson would have to look beyond Michael Dawson, Anthony Gardner and Chris Riggott, who are also injured. He is not likely to call for further back-up unless there is another injury in training today.