Fit-again Adams puts record straight

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Arsenal skipper Tony Adams will play against Italians Lazio tonight, insisting: "The time is right to put the record straight about my fitness."

Arsenal skipper Tony Adams will play against Italians Lazio tonight, insisting: "The time is right to put the record straight about my fitness."

And he also maintained his recent injuries should not be deciding factors ahead of England's cruicial World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Finland.

Centre-back Adams faces a demanding schedule of four games in the space of two weeks.

It includes a tough test against Manchester United this weekend.

With the two England qualifiers following in quick succession on October 7 and 11, there has been concern over his likely availability given his latest injury problems.

Adams, who can expect to be named tomorrow by England boss Kevin Keegan in his squad for those two games, Adams declared: "There have been a lot of rumours and a lot of talk from people who don't know."

He has written in his programme notes for the Lazio game at Highbury: "My target is clear.

"I plan to play between 45 and 50 games this season for Arsenal and I hope to add another half-dozen to that with England.

"I am confident that I will reach those targets. Quite simply, I jarred my back. Nothing more and nothing less."

Keegan will certainly be counting on his captain to be fit for both matches, especially given that he will be without his injured vice-captain, Sol Campbell, due to a dislocated shoulder.

The England coach will seek to ensure that he covers all of his potentially troublesome areas when he names what is likely to be an expanded 26-man squad tomorrow.

Keegan, who will not be attending a press conference given that he understandably needs time to come to terms with the recent death of his mother, is certain to again rely on the foundation stones of the last squad he named.

With only Campbell and Darren Anderton both definitely absent through injury from the original 24-man squad to face France, that would mean the England coach finding an additional four players to call up.

Although he may also consider whether to replace keeper David James with Ipswich's Richard Wright, it would seem likely that full-back Graeme Le Saux and midfielder Ray Parlour will be two of those names.

Le Saux, who joined in training with the England squad ahead of the friendly in France, is now back in the Chelsea team following a lengthy injury problem and impressed at Old Trafford last weekend.

And Parlour, who missed out on the European Championships through injury, is also now back after being out of action again earlier this month.

With Paul Scholes being pushed forward behind Andy Cole in Paris, Keegan meanwhile only named four strikers last time around - Cole, Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Kevin Phillips.

There is still a major injury doubt over Heskey, who had to pull out injured from that squad, and Robbie Fowler could earn a recall despite his own lack of match-fitness.

Keegan's other options are to turn again to teenage Leeds striker Alan Smith, who was a late call-up before the friendly in Paris, or to place his faith in the superb recent form of 34-year-old Teddy Sheringham.

As for the final place, with the likes of David Batty, Jason Wilcox and Jamie Redknapp all long-term casualties and Lee Bowyer suspended from international duty, Keegan's options would seem to be gathered at Upton Park.

With Rio Ferdinand insisting that he will be fit, the England coach will have been weighing up the relative merits of veteran Stuart Pearce and youngster Joe Cole, as well as Frank Lampard and Trevor Sinclair.

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