There are still 11 days to go before England resume their European Championship qualifying campaign but already Sven Goran Eriksson's resources are dwindling.
Last night the England manager learned that Sol Campbell and David Seaman are unlikely to be available for the impending double-header against Liechtenstein and Turkey.
The news came as a surprise and a shock to Eriksson, who had already accepted he would be without another Arsenal defender, Ashley Cole. On Monday Eriksson said he had spoken to Arsenal and been told Seaman was likely to play against Valencia.
Yesterday Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said Eriksson had not spoken to him. That, and Campbell's likely absence, suggests Eriksson's faith in the clubs being fair when it came to competitive matches is unplaced. Campbell, it seems, may be fit to play for England but the club would prefer him to rest a niggling Achilles problem.
Seaman, who has a hamstring injury, remained in London for treatment when Arsenal flew to Spain yesterday for tonight's Champions' League tie against Valencia. Campbell travelled but is regarded as a 40-60 bet to play.
"I think Seaman will not be ready for either Everton [on Sunday] or Chelsea [on Tuesday]," said Wenger. "If he does not play those games he will be out for England as well. I can't see how he can play for the national team when he is not playing for Arsenal.
"We are pushing Sol to play against Valencia but his situation for England is not good as I can't see how he can cope with that number of games in such a short time."
Wayne Bridge is already in line to replace Cole while either David James or Paul Robinson will stand in for Seaman, neither of whom have figured in a competitive international. In Campbell's absence, Rio Ferdinand is likely to be partnered by his club team-mate Wes Brown, Jonathan Woodgate, or Gareth Southgate.
Eriksson will also without Alan Smith for the Liechtenstein match. The Leeds United striker is suspended after his dismissal against Macedonia. Eriksson knows to his cost this is unlikely to be the full sum of absentees, not with this week's European fixtures, a full Premiership programme and Tuesday's Arsenal-Chelsea FA Cup replay to be negotiated.
As he said on Monday: "I have a list of 28 to 30 names, but I have learned by now that if you pick a team on Monday something happens on Tuesday and Wednesday, then again on Saturday. It is best to wait."
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