Football: Time is ripe for Le Tissier: Venables has to experiment with England selection because of injury while Brown declines that option north of the border

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The Independent Online
AFTER a summer in which his only duels were with Alan Sugar's lawyers and Jimmy Hill, Terry Venables will regard his media inquisitors more fondly than most managers do when he announces his first England squad of the season today.

However, the England coach will be aware that although he continues to enjoy a lengthy honeymoon his brave new world will be rudely abused should the United States' trip to Wembley end in victory a week tomorrow.

Venables may be about to enter a prolonged period of experimentation, but when England are playing the result is never superfluous, even when the performance is paramount.

As Graham Taylor could remind him, there were no qualification points riding on the match with the United States in Foxboro 15 months ago but that did not stop him being savaged by public and press when England lost.

The need to avenge that result, and to build on the vibrancy of the new season, means Venables is unlikely to overdo the experiments but, given the injuries to Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, David Batty and Steve Bould, some new faces are likely.

In the queue are Andy Cole, Chris Sutton and Stan Collymore. Neither they nor another striking contender, Dean Holdsworth, figured in Venables' senior squads last season and sheer weight of numbers dictate that some will continue to wait after today.

Given his relationship with Sugar, the club's chairman, Venables may have initially feared that the signings of Jurgen Klinsmann and Ilie Dumitrescu were designed to reduce his options as England coach, but it has quickly become obvious that their presence will accelerate the development of Darren Anderton, Teddy Sheringham and Nick Barmby, though only Anderton is certain to be included at this stage.

One possible new face is Newcastle's Robert Lee who was included as a standby player last season. But the spotlight may be on a player from a less successful club. With most of his experienced playmakers injured, Venables may feel this is the chance to include Matthew Le Tissier in the starting XI for the first time.

Le Tissier is one of five players given debuts by Venables (with Anderton, Graeme Le Saux, Bould and Kevin Richardson) of the 21 he has used in three matches. Taylor opened with 19 in his first four, but his experiments never ended.

A good display on Wednesday week matters as the early optimism of Venables' reign - when Greece were thrashed and unadventurous Norway contained - must be tempered in the light of the World Cup. Both those sides were so poor in the US it appears that Venables' tactical adroitness extended to his selection of opponents.

The Football Assoiation have offered the United States team a dollars 25,000 ( pounds 16,450) bonus to beat England. The aim, an FA spokesman said, was to give the friendly 'a bit of an edge'.

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