Beckham's bone heals as tide finally turns for England

With five days remaining to England's opening World Cup match Sven Goran Eriksson will begin putting the pieces of his jigsaw back together again today, when four of his limping lions return to full training.

Barring any reaction to their injuries, Ashley Cole, Nicky Butt, Robbie Fowler and David Seaman should all thus be available for selection for Sunday's match against Sweden.

The best news for the England coach, however, is that he may also be able to pick David Beckham, who was told last night that his left foot had healed. Beckham is expected to test his fitness in a full training session on Friday. The news takes the pressure off Kieron Dyer, who will continue with his rehabilitation programme in the hope he will be fit for the Argentina match.

The decision whether to play Beckham against the Swedes in Saitama is entirely England's to make. Manchester United's medical staff are likely to be consulted but do not have, nor expect, any right of veto.

The only other fitness concern for England is that several players have been suffering from blistered feet. Martin Keown said: "We are at the end of a hard season with the clubs and you think your feet are ready for it, but we have a lot of blisters. The grounds are very hard."

This is one reason for leaving the pitches well-grassed, which England have found is making passing difficult. "The ball is very sticky on the surface and not moving particularly quickly," Keown added.

The Arsenal defender, like most of the England squad, was an interested television spectator when Sweden drew with the co-hosts Japan on Saturday night. "The Swedes looked professional and very well organised," Keown said. "They scored against the run of play and they looked strong. I was also impressed with the Japanese, their technique and tempo."

Keown was not the only one watching and waiting. Since December England have been tracked by Roland Andersson. A lot can be read into the way someone defines himself. When Andersson was introduced as "the man who played right-back for Malmo in the European Cup final against Nottingham Forest", the quietly spoken Swede's opening conversational gambit was: "I should have cut out the John Robertson cross from which Trevor Francis scored the only goal."

Twenty-three years on, it remains at the forefront of his mind. Sad, in a way, since playing in a European Cup final is an achievement in itself, especially for a part-time footballer, as Andersson was. But it also suggests a perfectionist and a professional, and the ideal man to scout Sven Goran Eriksson's team.

What has he seen? While understandably loath to give away too much, he was prepared to provide a flavour of his scouting report. "England are a good side because everyone is willing to defend and they get players behind the ball very quickly," he said.

"That makes them compact at the back. They also have so much pace up front. Most teams play so deep it is difficult to get behind them but we push up, so we have to be worried about the pace England have. Not many teams have players like Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Darius Vassell who like running into space."

He then added the obvious caveat. "It is a little different for England now that Steven Gerrard, and maybe Beckham, are not playing. Those balls into Owen especially, particularly when he is turning out to the left, do not exist if Gerrard and Beckham are not playing."

To many English eyes Eriksson is building a long-ball team but, while not wishing to be drawn into the argument, Andersson asked: "What's wrong with the long ball? When it is played well it is effective. Wimbledon did it for years ­ they had the players."

Andersson added with a smile: "It is going to be a very tight game. Maybe we will play more in an English fashion than the English. We are great fans of English football in Sweden. If Sweden went out Swedish people would support England because of Sven ­ and they always support England. The first game is very important, so why don't we settle for the draw?"

In the circumstances England may be happy to do so. Nor is it an improbable result. Sweden have lost once in 20 matches, England twice in 15.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence