Manchester gives Eriksson last base to pick first-choice XI

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The Independent Football

Sven-Goran Eriksson will complete his build-up for the Euro 2004 finals with a three-way mini-tournament against Japan and Iceland at the City of Manchester Stadium. The event will feature the 23 players Eriksson will have already chosen for the European Championships as he attempts to find his first-choice starting XI.

The England coach said: "These are our last warm-up games before Euro 2004, so this tournament is crucial preparation. Both of our opponents have very good individual players - household names like [Eidur] Gudjohnsen and [Hidetoshi] Nakata - and are playing good football at the moment. I'm looking forward to the games.

"We had an amazing welcome from the Japanese fans during the World Cup and I'm sure the people of Manchester will return the compliment."

Japan could also feature players with Premiership experience such as Kazuyuki Toda and Junichi Inamoto.

Iceland, meanwhile, may not only boast Chelsea's Gudjohnsen, but also Watford's Heidar Helguson and Charlton's Hermann Hreidarsson, and they finished just a point behind second-placed Scotland in their Euro 2004 qualifying group.

While Iceland will play Japan first on 30 May, England will then take on Japan on 1 June, followed by Iceland on 5 June in the first internationals to be staged at the recent Commonwealth Games stadium.

The FA chief executive Mark Palios said: "The City of Manchester Stadium is one of the finest new venues in the country. We're delighted to take the team back to Manchester, where they've traditionally enjoyed such phenomenal support."

The Manchester City chairman John Wardle added: "This is terrific news for the City of Manchester Stadium and a great privilege to be hosting these three international games."

England will not have to try to contain the attacking powers of France's Djibril Cissé in their opening match in Euro 2004 as Uefa, the European game's governing body, has upheld the five-match ban imposed on him. Cissé, whose appeal was rejected yesterday, will almost certainly miss the entire tournament as the France coach Jacques Santini is unlikely to include the Auxerre forward in his squad as he would only be available for the final.

Cissé was sent off for deliberately kicking an opponent during an Under-21 international between France and Portugal but then compounded the offence by refusing to leave the field and insulting the referee.

The Manchester City striker Nicolas Anelka could replace Cissé but Santini has made it clear that Anelka would first have to apologise for previous incidents that led to his exclusion.