Maximum of six substitutes a setback for Sven

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The Independent Football

Sven Goran Eriksson suffered defeat in his campaign to prevent a limit on the number of substitutes in international friendlies after a six-player maximum was imposed yesterday.

The England head coach and the Football Association had led protests against Fifa's proposal but were forced to accept the restriction at a meeting of the International FA Board in London. Eriksson can continue to make as many changes as he wants in the three friendlies before Euro 2004 as the new rule is from 1 July.

The change will inevitably make his job tougher, especially with the delicate club versus country balance and it could even have an effect on his thinking over a new contract offer to run until 2008.

"The decision is disappointing and has been made against the wishes of the leading coaches in Europe," Eriksson said. "The only chance managers have to see new players is in friendlies and we only have three or four a year. I have spoken to president Blatter about this and even though they have increased the number of substitutes to six from five, I still think the decision is wrong."

FA executive director David Davies added: "Sven will be disappointed but we have three friendlies before Euro 2004 and I am sure he'd want to use all the players he is taking to Portugal."

The Board also scrapped the golden and silver goal rules post-Euro 2004, knockout games again to be decided on penalties after extra-time. Other rules passed included the use of artificial pitches and a caution for shirt removal during goal celebrations.