Hughton spots weak link in Turkey armour

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The Independent Football

Chris Hughton has warned England they face a battle against Turkey next month, but believes Sven Goran Eriksson's men can expose the Turks' defensive frailties.

The Republic of Ireland and Tottenham coach watched in admiration on Tuesday night as the Irish shared a 2-2 friendly draw with Turkey at Lansdowne Road. He was impressed with Turkey's midfield and attack, but spotted weak links at the back.

"Turkey are a top-class side, there's no doubt about it," Hughton said. "For me, their strengths are in the middle of the park where they have the ability to hold on to the ball. There is so much passing ability and movement, and a massive asset is their work-rate.

"They work very hard for each other and are able to sustain a high tempo, which is exactly what they did against us. Perhaps a testament to the Irish team is they didn't get behind us as much as they would have liked," he added.

"They are able to mix up their game, which is a problem for any team. Not only can they pass the ball through to attack but with Hakan Sukur they have a direct route forward. Once the ball is played forward to Sukur he will battle for it, and there is good movement around to support him.

"There is a weakness at the back. As with all sides who are creative and have a lot of opportunities going forward, so I think it is possible to get behind them and threaten them. They are such an attack-minded and spirited side that they are going to be a bit vulnerable and at times will leave holes."

Ireland took the lead through West Ham's David Connolly but then had to fight back to rescue a draw with an injury-time strike from the Manchester City defender Richard Dunne.

Hughton believes the experience will stand the Irish in good stead for their decisive Euro 2004 Group 10 qualifier against Switzerland in Basle.

"There were so many positives for us because we put together a side who had not played together on many occasions and they performed heroically," said Hughton.

"What you saw is us going into a massive game next month and everybody wanting to stake a claim to play."