Platt surgery upsets Venables' plans

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The Independent Online

David Platt, the England captain, was last night pulled out of next week's match against Colombia due to an injury he received prior to playing - and scoring - in Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest at Highbury earlier in the evening. Within hours of his selection for his country it was revealed he will have surgery tomorrow to repair a torn cartilage in his right knee.

In announcing Platt's withdrawal, Bruce Rioch, the Arsenal manager, said that the injury was, in fact, suffered three weeks ago in training before his club played Internazionale in a pre-season friendly. "Now we are going to lose him for two games, at least, although the doctors say he could be back in training inside 10 days," Rioch said.

By a strange quirk of fate, Internazionale's new pounds 7.5m English signing, Paul Ince, will also be missing from the international at Wembley next Wednesday - though not through injury. He was overlooked by Terry Venables, the England coach.

Venables made no mention of Platt's injury when announcing the squad earlier in the day, but Rioch said: "David has spoken to him. He had a scan on his right knee on Sunday when the tear was discovered. We were given the go-ahead by the specialist to play him tonight and although we were assured it could not do him further damage it is clear now he needs the surgery and we've got to look after our players."

Platt becomes the latest absentee from a squad which was already as notable for those it had omitted as for those it had included. Other than Ince, Venables has also left out Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand and Matt Le Tissier, although he has called up John Salako for the first time in four years.

Le Tissier and Ferdinand have each scored three Premiership goals this season while Cole looked sharp during Manchester United's win over Blackburn Rovers on Monday. Ince, meanwhile, made a promising start with Inter.

Of the four exclusions Ince is the most surprising, but he is also the player most likely to find his way back. Venables admitted he was "disappointed" by the player's withdrawal from the summer's Umbro Cup squad. He denied that this was the reason for his omission, and said "that is all in the past". But, with his next breath, he reiterated his desire to play only people who are "committed to England and prepared to make sacrifices".

The underlying message to Ince seems to be the same one as Alex Ferguson had for him - "we do not need you as much as you think we do". Ince, assuming he is fit and in form, will probably be in the next squad, for the October trip to Norway.

Ferdinand must wonder just what he has to do to get included, his age - 28 - should not be a problem, Peter Beardsley (34), John Barnes (31) and Teddy Sheringham (29) are included as usual.

Cole, too, must wonder. He has only played two matches since his long lay-off but questionable fitness has not precluded the selection of Stan Collymore and Paul Gascoigne.

Collymore has an ankle injury that, according to Roy Evans the Liverpool manager, makes his participation next week "touch and go". Gascoigne, though recovered from last week's groin injury, has rarely finished a match in the last year. Le Tissier, the only English player with the same creative ability, sits it out.

"He is on the edge of the squad," Venables said of the Southampton captain. At times he must feel like jumping off it.

Venables was full of praise for Salako, who last played for England under Graham Taylor against Germany in autumn 1991. He then suffered severe knee injuries. "I watched him throughout last season, he improved as it went on until the closing weeks when he played with injury," he said. "He is technically good, an intelligent player, who is a good crosser."

COLOMBIA SQUAD (v England at Wembley, 6 September): Higuita, Chiquillo, Fernando Santa, Gonzalez, Perez, Bermudez, Maziri, Mendoza, Gaviria, Alvarez, Lozano, Rincon, Valderrama, Quinones, Asprilla, Leon, Valenciano.

Rovers relapse, page 23


England squad (v Colombia, Wembley, 6 Sept)

Player Club Age Caps

D Seaman Arsenal 31 17

T Flowers Blackburn 28 7

R Jones Liverpool 23 8

G Neville Man Utd 20 2

T Adams Arsenal 28 35

S Howey Newcastle 23 1

G Pallister Man Utd 30 18

G Le Saux Blackburn 26 10

S Pearce N Forest 33 59

S McManaman Liverpool 23 3

D Platt Arsenal 29 55

R Lee Newcastle 29 2

J Redknapp Liverpool 22 -

D Batty Blackburn 26 17

J Barnes Liverpool 31 78

P Gascoigne Rangers 28 32

D Wise Chelsea 28 8

T Sheringham Spurs 29 9

P Beardsley Newcastle 34 57

N Barmby M'brough 21 2

S Collymore Liverpool 24 2

J Salako Coventry 26 5

A Shearer Blackburn 25 7

P Ince Internazionale 27 16

M Le Tissier Southampton 26 6

L Ferdinand Newcastle 28 7

A Cole Man Utd 23 1