Kerr warns Eriksson of Turkey's growing threat

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The Independent Football

Brian Kerr yesterday spelt out the dangers that England will face when they meet Turkey in next month's decisive Euro 2004 qualifier as he hailed them as the most improved footballing nation in Europe over the last 25 years.

The Republic of Ireland meet Turkey in a friendly at Lansdowne Road today in a match requested by the visitors as an important warm-up for their crucial Group Seven qualifier at home to England.

The England camp will be taking a very keen interest in the match, and the Ireland manager reminded his counterpart, Sven Goran Eriksson, of the stern test he faces.

"I discussed this last night with my technical staff and we were of the opinion that, of all the nations in Europe, Turkey is probably the country which has made the most progress in the last 25 years," Kerr said. "We beat them 4-0 in the 1970s and then 5-0 in 1990, so they have improved considerably since then.

"Turkey were more than anxious to have a match with us and they will be treating it very seriously," he added. "It wouldn't make sense for them to treat us with anything approaching disdain or to underestimate the match."

Kerr will use the match for experimental purposes only, although he insisted it would give his fringe players a chance to stake their claim for Ireland's decisive Group 10 qualifier in Switzerland next month.

"There's every chance for the people who didn't start against Russia to play themselves into the team for Switzerland, either in tomorrow's match or over the next few weeks in their club football."

* Sammy McIlroy, the Northern Ireland manager, could be without two of his most creative players for the Euro 2004 qualifier against Armenia tomorrow at Windsor Park. The Leicester winger Keith Gillespie suffered hamstring and knee problems in Saturday's match in Ukraine, while the Crystal Palace midfielder Michael Hughes is suspended. The Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll and the Hibernian defender Colin Murdock have rejoined the squad, having been ruled out of the 0-0 draw in Ukraine because of back and hamstring injuries respectively.

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