Football: Venables chooses Wise route: Ian Ridley reports on England's reward for a reformed character on the wing

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The Independent Online
AS befitting a man who once sang 'My Way' on Spanish radio, the England coach Terry Venables is ignoring criticism from Egil Olsen, his Norwegian counterpart, and retaining for today's match between the two countries at Wembley the fluid formation that has brought wins over Denmark and Greece.

There is, however, a triple change of personnel. David Seaman replaces Tim Flowers in goal, Paul Ince returns as the anchor in front of the back four in place of Kevin Richardson and Dennis Wise ousts Paul Merson on the left of midfield. It brings to 21 the number of players Venables has used so far. Seaman will probably have injections to kill the pain of a cracked rib sustained during an Arsenal match late in the season; he required six such to get through the European Cup-Winners' final in Copenhagen.

Wise's selection is his first for three years and is a reward not just for a performance of courage and quality for Chelsea in the FA Cup final but for a season that has seen him, under Glenn Hoddle's tutelage, develop into a more accomplished passer, as well as crosser, and a more disciplined character.

His disciplinary record was always a problem until this season when Hoddle threatened to strip him of the Chelsea captaincy after he had been sent off last October at West Ham, adding that he wanted 42 games a season from him instead of 30. It worked. Wise has not been booked since. 'He is a good team player, a good passer, and the more good passers I can get the better,' said Venables.

The coach retains the Peter Beardsley-Alan Shearer-David Platt attacking formation, deciding to defer until next season any experimental system. He has resisted a lobby, albeit only small, to start a match with Matthew Le Tissier, which may have happened had Darren Anderton not recovered from a slight strain. 'I am introducing him to the team. We know what it can be like - you can have a fanfare for a player, you put him in, it doesn't go well and he's gone to one side. I think it is a little better for him this way.'

Venables's team will certainly not be travelling the Route One that has been urged on him by Olsen, who believes that England should be true to their nature as experienced exponents of direct play. 'I don't agree with the style of play he's trying to introduce,' said Norway's coach. 'All recent research shows the passing game is not as effective as direct play.' 'Interesting,' was Venables's response.

Olsen's comments, sounding like some boxing promoter seeking to sell tickets, will probably have delighted the FA, and not just their direct-style coaching guru Charles Hughes, as they hope for an attendance of around 60,000.

Norway's starting line-up will contain six players from the English club game, with another three on the bench, and should provide a more interesting trial of England's rehabilitation than did Greece.

Much will depend both on how Steve Bould and Tony Adams deal with Norway's own twin towers up front, Jostein Flo and Goran Sorloth, and on the fleetness of movement of the English forwards to disturb a solid defence with its own midfield minder in Kjetil Rekdal, scorer of the goal that brought Norway an unmerited draw at Wembley 18 months ago.

With Venables seeking also to be true to the technique of the domestic game's top talents, to add to its traditional heart, we should at least see more than the Norse manure of England's defeat in Oslo in the return a year ago.

ENGLAND: Seaman (Arsenal); Jones (Liverpool), Le Saux (Blackburn Rovers), Ince (Manchester (United), Bould (Arsenal), Adams (Arsenal), Platt (Sampdoria), Wise (Chelsea), Shearer (Blackburn Rovers), Beardsley (Newcastle United), Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur).

NORWAY (probable): Thorstvedt (Tottenham); Halle (Oldham), Bratseth (Werder Bremen), H Berg (Blackburn), Nilsen (Sheffield United), O Berg (Basle), Rekdal (Lierse), Bohinen (Nottingham Forest), Jakobsen (Lierse), Flo (Sheffield United), Sorloth (Bursaspor). Substitutes: By Rise (Rosenborg); E Johnsen (Chelsea), Haland (Nottingham Forest), Ingebrigtsen (Manchester City), Fjortoft (Swindon).

Republic of Ireland World Cup squad, page 9

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