Football: Wright to lead the line as England are let off the leash: Arsenal striker expectant as Taylor orders Turkey to be taken to the cleaners in preparation for exacting match against the Dutch

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The Independent Online
GRAHAM TAYLOR has broken with take-each-game-as-it-comes orthodoxy by calling on England to 'thump' Turkey this afternoon, and set themselves up for the more demanding World Cup tie at home to the Netherlands in four weeks' time.

A repeat of the four-goal margin by which the Turks were beaten at Wembley in November would take England to the top of Group Two, ahead of Norway on goal difference, and Taylor spoke yesterday of the valuable fillip the leadership would provide when the Dutch come calling on 28 April.

Turkey should not be disregarded, the manager said. He then proceeded to do just that by suggesting that 1-0 would not be good enough. Taylor wants not just to win, but to win well. 'A result like the one we had at Wembley would put us on top of the group, and take us into the game against Holland with a psychological advantage. We would be in pole position, with a game in hand. The match against Turkey at home was our best performance to date, and I would like to thump them again. When we win 1-0 we don't get full credit.'

England's thumping potential will be substantially diminished if Les Ferdinand fails a late test on the troublesome hip which prevented him from taking any part in training yesterday. He has been included in the team in the hope that another 24 hours would make all the difference. John Barnes and Lee Sharpe are on stand-by.

Already without a broadside of strikers - Shearer, Hirst, Smith, Warhurst, Deane, Merson - Taylor can ill afford to lose one of the two he has left. As it is, he will be reliant, at best, on a pair with just eight international appearances, and one goal, between them.

In the circumstances, it was reassuring to hear the senior partner, Ian Wright, talking like a man whose time had come. It was 'exciting' to be the principal striker, he said. 'I like being in the position where I hold my destiny in my own hands.'

The fact that he has still to score after seven games had ceased to prey on his mind 'because the boss has emphasised that I contribute other things'. It was a challenge, and a source of motivation, 'to make sure I stay in the team as the main man'.

Wright will be 30 this year and, he said, because of his late development he was anxious to make up for lost time. 'I want to play in as many as big games as I can, if only for the memory.' He felt he had wasted two good chances against Norway by 'rushing them', was 'unlucky' not to score against Turkey at home, and would have done so had he been fit to play against San Marino. 'Once I get one, I hope it will all open up for me.'

What would that first goal mean to him? 'Another ambition realised.' He expects it to come in the Ataturk stadium, against opponents he holds in no great esteem.

'I thought Alan (Shearer) and I gave them the runaround in the first game. I don't think their defenders were as good as you expect at this level. I hope the same player is marking me.'

Turkey are more concerned with marking Paul Gascoigne, and Taylor believes their preoccupation with the man who destroyed them at Wembley may be to England's profit. 'It won't be a major problem for us,' he said. 'If Gascoigne is tightly marked, David Platt will contribute somewhere along the line. That's the beauty of having a star player - the other side pay a lot of attention to him, and forget there are nine other outfield players to worry about.'

Having scored four as a stand-in striker against San Marino, Platt is back in midfield here, yet no one will be surprised if he added to the 16 goals he has scored in 36 internationals. Unwilling to pigeon-hole his captain, Taylor said: 'David Platt is a footballer. Wherever he plays, he will get into the penalty box and score goals.'

It is a facility Turkey envy. They had a couple of decent chances at Wembley, but failed to make the most of them, and the poverty of their finishing was underlined when they were held goalless by the group's whipping boys, San Marino.

Their prospects of scoring today were scarcely enhanced when Hakan, the much admired centre-forward from Galatasaray, was chosen instead for yesterday's goalless Under-21 match here.

The young Turks have high hopes of qualifying for the intermediate tournament, and the priority they are getting will be reflected in the attendances for the two games. The senior side expects little more than half yesterday's 20,000.

Attending to the cradle is all very laudable, of course, but it would be interesting to hear what the Netherlands or Norway had to say about Turkey weakening their World Cup team, to England's advantage.

An away win is favourite, but it may not be as convincing, or as straightforward, as Taylor would like. The opposition is hot-blooded and the pitch uneven. A hazardous mix. Gascoigne and Paul Ince, booked earlier in the series, will need to be on their best behaviour to avoid the second caution which would put them out of the Dutch match.

No thumping from them.

TURKEY (probable): Hayrettin (Galatasaray);

Recep (Besiktas), Bulent (Galatasaray), Ali (Besiktas), Ogun (Trabzonspor), Tugay (Galatasaray), Feyyaz (Besiktas), Unal (Trabzonspor), Mehmet (Besiktas), Oguz (Fenerbahce), Orhan (Trabzonspor).

Referee: F Baldas (Italy).

Marco Van Basten, the Dutch striker who was expected to return from ankle surgery in time to play against England at Wembley on 28 April, may need another month to recover, his club, Milan, said yesterday.

----------------------------------------------------------------- ENGLAND LINE-UP ----------------------------------------------------------------- WOODS Sheffield Wednesday DIXON ADAMS WALKER SINTON Arsenal Arsenal Sampdoria QPR PALMER PLATT INCE Sheff Wed Juventus Man Utd GASCOIGNE Lazio WRIGHT FERDINAND Arsenal QPR -----------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------- WORLD CUP GROUP TWO ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Norway . . . . . . . . . . . .4 3 1 0 15 2 7 Netherlands. . . . . . . . . .5 3 1 1 15 6 7 England. . . . . . . . . . . .3 2 1 0 11 1 5 Poland . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1 1 0 3 2 3 Turkey . . . . . . . . . . . .6 1 1 4 6 12 3 San Marino . . . . . . . . . .6 0 1 5 1 28 1 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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