World Cup could be Larsson's Sweden swansong

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The Independent Online

The Celtic striker Henrik Larsson is considering retiring from international football after the World Cup.

The Swedish international said his time with the national side could be curtailed if the team are not successful in Japan and South Korea. "I have to make a decision about my future," Larsson said. "The European Championships in Portugal seem distant and it is not certain that I will be as keen to play in the national team then, as I am now.

"It depends a bit on how we do in the World Cup. If we have a good tournament, like in the United States in 1994, it is of course more fun to go on."

Larsson added that he expects to leave Celtic and return to Sweden. "When my contract ends in 2004, my family will move home to Helsingborg so our son, who will then be seven, can go to a Swedish school."

The France coach, Roger Lemerre, has not yet ruled out Nicolas Anelka for his World Cup squad but is worried that the striker has so far failed to win a regular first-team place at Liverpool.

"He is not with us today but nobody knows what tomorrow will bring," Lemerre said. "His talent is not under question but obviously he has to deal with a tough challenge with Michael Owen and [Emile] Heskey."

The on-loan Paris St-Germain striker, who has missed three of France's last four outings, was left out for tomorrow's friendly against Romania at the Stade de France.

Emmanuel Petit and Robert Pires have raised fears that club commitments could jeopardise France's World Cup hopes. Most of the French squad are involved in title races across Europe, and both believe that the demands of club football could compromise the players.

Pires insists his commitments to Arsenal will remain a priority because, he says: "We should not forget who pays us."

Petit expressed a similar concern. "The most important thing for me is not to see the French team beat Romania tomorrow, but to be performing to our full potential during the World Cup in June," he said. "Many players may not be completely ready, simply because of their duties with their respective clubs."

Petit is with a Chelsea side who have played eight matches in three weeks and he said, "It is hard to cope with it and we will not be able to save ourselves for the World Cup; that would be showing a lack of respect towards our clubs."

Pires added: "This season is the most difficult of my career. I want to play for the domestic cups and win the Premiership with Arsenal, and after that I will have the World Cup."

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