Football: World Cup: WHAT THE EXPERTS THINK: ENGLAND V TUNISIA

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The Independent Online
SIR GEOFF HURST

"I have no hesitation in calling on Glenn Hoddle to pick Owen to be Alan Shearer's strike partner this summer, starting tomorrow against Tunisia," the newly-knighted 1966 World Cup hero said yesterday. "I believe Teddy Sheringham might have hammered the final nail in his coffin with his insane behaviour in Portugal in the build-up to the World Cup. Owen can provide that spark of genius and turn a game with his pace."

JACK CHARLTON

"Michael Owen can be left on the bench for this game, ready to come on and use his pace if needed," Jack Charlton, Hurst's 1996 team-mate, writes in The Independent today. "It worries me that we are already labelling him England's matchwinner and pinning a lot of hopes on him. He's only 18 and so inexperienced at this level, a level when he will be up against the best defenders in the world. Owen can play more of a role later."

OSVALDO ARDILES

"I think they did extremely well in qualification but since they have lost their way a little bit," the former Tottenham hero and World Cup winner with Argentina said yesterday. "I believe they lack a conductor in midfield. Somebody like Gascoigne. Unfortunately I believe the best times of Gascoigne are over, but they need somebody like him, somebody who can conduct the orchestra in midfield."

ALEX FERGUSON

"The World Cup challenge cannot succeed unless someone emerges to take on the creative responsibilities that would have been handled by Gascoigne if his abysmal lack of condition had not made his selection unjustifiable. I suspect Hoddle believes, as I do, that Paul Scholes is the one most likely to fill the role effectively," Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager, said yesterday.

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