Venables defends England get-together

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Terry Venables yesterday hit back at critics who accuse him of interrupting the climax to the domestic season for a "pointless" get-together with a shadow squad of England hopefuls.

"It is a valuable session and I'm looking to have more of them next season," the England coach said. One pundit accused him of having a "dirty weekend" at the expense of thousands of fans left idle this weekend by the postponement of the Premiership fixture list. But Venables, who was frustrated in his efforts to fix up a game, says: "People who say that can't have their eyes open.

"If we hadn't had this get-together there still wouldn't have been any games because countries like Ireland, Holland, Germany and Wales are still playing next week. It's international week - it's reserved for that. It's not reserved just for England. I'm sure managers would prefer their players coming away for a couple of days without a game at the end of it than playing next Wednesday.

"Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, it freshens everyone up. There is no downside to this for the clubs. I sent letters out to the managers telling them that they would be welcome to come along and take a look to know how much work we will be doing. I would like more get-togethers like this and I will be putting some feelers out to see how much of a possibility it is next season."

Venables was taking a close look at players like Stan Collymore, Robbie Fowler, Steve Stone, David James and David Unsworth before he names his squad for the June tournament against Brazil, Sweden and Japan.

"There will be a little experimenting then," he admitted. "But I hope to come out of that tournament knowing more about our opposition and ourselves."