FA 'mess' hurts us, says Southgate

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough captain Gareth Southgate has criticised the "messy" recruitment process to find the next England manager, insisting that the speculation is unfair on the clubs affected by it.

Steve McClaren, the Middlesbrough manager, is reportedly one of the four favourites to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson after the World Cup finals this summer. McClaren is thought to be joined by Bolton's Sam Allardyce, the former Celtic manager Martin O'Neill and Charlton's Alan Curbishley on the FA's shortlist.

"The England situation at the moment seems very public and a bit up in the air," Southgate said. "I think it's a bit unfair on all the clubs that are involved. There are three or four clubs waiting to plan for the new season and bringing players in next year, and it all seems a bit messy at the moment.

"I hope something will be resolved in whichever way fairly soon. If we're to believe there are four candidates then all of those clubs are affected, and everybody involved at those clubs is going to want to know what the position is for next season."

Curbishley has insisted that his defender Luke Young, who has been the back-up right-back to Gary Neville, will not miss the World Cup finals through injury as has been reported. "We're pleased with his progress," Curbishley said. "He's seeing a specialist and we're hopeful he won't be too far away. Talk that he'll be out for four or five weeks, for the rest of the season or even for the World Cup is very premature - we think he's got a good chance of coming back before the end of the season."

Meanwhile, the England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence said yesterday that Eriksson would not gamble by taking half-fit players to the World Cup.

Arsenal's Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell, plus Newcastle's Michael Owen, are all out of action with their clubs due to injury. "We have the best squad we have had for many years but of course we do need that squad to be fully fit when we go to Germany," Clemence said.

"If it is fully fit and the better players in that squad are in top form, and we have the one thing we've not had in the last two tournaments - a little bit of luck - then we have an excellent chance of going a long way."

* Sir Bobby Robson, 73, is recovering after a fall while skiing which caused him rib and lung damage. The former England manager, who is working as international football consultant with the Republic of Ireland, has undergone minor surgery on the affected lung.

* Guus Hiddink announced last night that he would be the next coach of the Russian national team. Hiddink, who will leave PSV Eindhoven at the end of the season, told Dutch television: "I'm glad that this is off my chest now... If all the final details in my private life are settled as planned the deal will be sealed."

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