England start search for 2006 World Cup finals base

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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson insists he is taking nothing for granted despite the Football Association lining up a base camp for England during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Sven Goran Eriksson insists he is taking nothing for granted despite the Football Association lining up a base camp for England during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

England are leading Group Six in the qualification for the World Cup but still have six of their 10 matches left to play.

Eriksson and FA officials say that competition for the best bases in Germany means they have to be prepared before qualification is secured. England's manager said: "There is a long way to go still in qualifying, we all know that. We are not taking anything for granted but we have to make sure that if we do get to Germany, the right facilities and accommodation are there waiting for us.

"This is what all the other leading countries do and the FA has always been very good in giving us everything we need before we go onto the pitch.

"I am looking forward to seeing and discussing the options that we have available to us. When we have done this, then we can make our decision."

FA officials have already studied several sites to be England's potential home and plan to whittle these down to a shortlist of three before the final choice is selected early in the new year.

Training facilities and security are the top priorities in selecting a base with areas for players to relax and congregate also viewed as important.

Adrian Bevington, the FA's head of media, added: "We are not being presumptuous or arrogant. This is the most sensible way for us to carry out our planning.

"Both Sven and the FA know from experience the amount of detail that needs to go into planning a World Cup and, if we were to leave it until all the qualification matches had been played, we would find ourselves very short, not only on time but also on options."

England's next qualifier is against Northern Ireland at Old Trafford on 26 March followed by Azerbaijan at St James' Park four days later.

* The former Scotland and Tottenham goalkeeper Bill Brown has died at the age of 73. Brown began his career with Dundee, making 274 appearances for the Dark Blues. But the goalkeeper made his name with Spurs, where he was part of the late Bill Nicholson's double-winning team in 1961. He won two FA Cups, a League championship and a European Cup Winners' Cup medal during Spurs' glory years under the management of Bill Nicholson, who also died recently. Brown won 28 caps for his country.

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