Owen's injury gives Defoe rare glimmer of hope

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The Independent Online

England managers are fond of claiming their door is always open but one will shut this evening when Sven Goran Eriksson names his party for next week's friendly against Sweden in Gothenberg on Wednesday.

England managers are fond of claiming their door is always open but one will shut this evening when Sven Goran Eriksson names his party for next week's friendly against Sweden in Gothenberg on Wednesday.

It will be the last chance for fringe players to impress before the England coach names his 23-man party for the summer's European Championships.

Among those facing disappointment are Jermain Defoe, Alan Thompson and Scott Parker. Nigel Martyn, who might have been called up to replace the injured Chris Kirkland, is thought to have indicated that, at 37, he is not interested in spending six weeks away from his family as the third choice goalkeeper. Ian Walker may thus be recalled despite his inconsistent form.

The one glimmer of hope for Defoe is that Eriksson is without Michael Owen who suffered a hamstring injury in Marseille on Thursday. More probably the England manager will take the opportunity to give Darius Vassell a run with Wayne Rooney, and Alan Smith more action.

The England coach will also have to rule out Ashley Cole (knee), Kieron Dyer (hamstring) and Glen Johnson (foot). On the credit side he can recall Steven Gerrard, who missed last month's friendly in Portugal to attend to birth of his first child, and, at last, Jonathan Woodgate. The Newcastle United defender has not played for England since 2002.

Arsène Wenger has promised that Sol Campbell, who has not played a friendly for England since the defeat to Australia more than a year ago, will be made available if he proves fit to play Manchester United tomorrow. Campbell is, however, carrying a groin injury and the likelihood is he will be called up, then sent home. In the meantime Eriksson may have to choose between Ledley King, who made such an impressive debut in Faro, and Gareth Southgate for the fourth central defensive spot.

With Arsenal and Manchester United due to meet again in the FA Cup semi-final next Saturday lunchtime it will be a surprise if the quartet of United players expected to be named in the squad all turn up in Sweden.

Their former colleague, David Beckham, suffered a minor injury in Real Madrid's defeat of Monaco on Wednesday and did not train yesterday. He is nevertheless expected to be included and take some part in the match.

The match is to commemorate the Centenary of the Swedish FA. Eriksson has written to all England fans with tickets asking them to repeat the excellent behaviour displayed in Portugal.

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