FOOTBALL: Venables' plans thwarted by England sick list

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The Independent Online


They hobbled, limped, coughed and groaned. Terry Venables' red, blue and white army were not in the best of shape yesterday.

Seven of the England coach's original 22 for Wednesday's match with Uruguay are suffering from various ailments, although only Alan Shearer's knee injury is serious enough to keep him out.

Two others, Darren Anderton (tonsillitis) and Rob Jones (stomach), failed to make training at Bisham Abbey yesterday while four sat it out. Gary Pallister (hip), John Barnes (thigh), Teddy Sheringham and Steve McManaman (both calf).

"None of them are too comfortable but McManaman is the biggest doubt," Venables said. Even when the England coach attempted to call up Lee Sharpe as cover he was thwarted: the Manchester United player has a hamstring injury. Jamie Redknapp will now stay with the squad instead of joining the England Under-21s in Ireland.

One man who has, eventually, made it into the squad is Andy Cole. Four days after being dropped by Manchester United he was called up for Shearer and may well start at Wembley.

After all the fuss - Venables was heavily criticised for not picking him earlier in the season - you might have expected Cole to enjoy himself yesterday. Yet Cole, in a tracksuit despite the unseasonal sun, showed only spasms of interest during the "open'' period of the session. He then sat out the shooting practice before refusing the Football Association's request to present himself for interviews.

Venables, however, was happy to talk about the player he described as "exciting, quick and, like Gary Lineker, able to overstretch to make contact with balls most people cannot reach''.

Parry's code, weekend preview, Football diary, results, page 46