When an international tournament beckons, there is normally at least one player who produces a well timed late run into the England team, the most notable example being Geoff Hurst in 1966. Tomorrow night, Jermain Defoe will hope to hear that he could still do so for Euro 2004 when Sven Goran Eriksson names his party for next week's friendly in Portugal.
The 21-year-old has scored twice in two games since returning to the Premiership with Tottenham after his move from West Ham. So he is likely to get a chance to press Darius Vassell, who is also on a timely run of form, for the squad's available fourth striking place.
At 37, Nigel Martyn is at the other end of his career but, with Ian Walker struggling for confidence and Chris Kirkland injured, his performances at Everton could earn him a recall.
Another waiting anxiously for Eriksson's decision will be Joe Cole, who could suffer for his failure to gain a regular place at Chelsea. There may be disappointment, too, for Alan Smith and James Beattie but Scott Parker should be included. Depending on Owen Hargreaves' fitness, Alan Thompson may finally be given the chance to prove he can reproduce his Celtic form in the international arena.
With Rio Ferdinand banned and Jonathan Woodgate injured, Gareth Southgate should feature. Steven Gerrard will be on compassionate leave as his partner is due to give birth. Gary Neville's fitness will be assessed after today's Manchester derby. The squad will meet up on Monday before flying to Portugal the day before Wednesday's game.
Eriksson yesterday expressed his delight at hiring the man who successfully scouted for Sweden's 2002 World Cup campaign. Roland Andersson, a 53-year-old former Swedish international, worked for his own national side ahead of the tournament in Japan, helping to prepare Sweden for their 1-1 draw against England.
Now, however, he has been employed to scout for Eriksson at the Euro 2004 finals along with the Under-21 coach, David Platt. "He has many good qualities and we know that he is someone we can trust and rely on," Eriksson said.
Referees were yesterday told to take a firmer line on players taking advantage ofnew offside guidelines. A meeting was called after controversial incidents in recent matches, particularly one between Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday.
The Football Association, Premier League and Football League representatives met on Friday and agreed to instruct referees that if they think the actions of a player in an offside position deceive or distract an opponent, that player must be given offside.
"It was generally felt that a decision needed to be taken on how to apply this interpretation to the type of situations we have seen during the past week, particularly in relation to attacking free-kicks," the FA's head of refereeing, John Baker, said.
Probable squad: James (Man City), Robinson (Leeds), Martyn (Everton); two from G Neville (Man Utd), Johnson (Chelsea) or Mills (Middlesbro); Bridge, Terry (both Chelsea), A Cole, Campbell (both Arsenal), Brown (Man Utd), Southgate (Middlesbro); Beckham (R Madrid), Lampard, Parker (both Chelsea), Butt, Scholes, P Neville (all Man Utd), Dyer (Newcastle), Hargreaves (B Munich) or Thompson (Celtic); Owen, Heskey (both Liverpool), Vassell (Aston Villa), Defoe (Tottenham), Rooney (Everton).Reuse content