Venables salutes Barmby double

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The Independent Online
England emerged from their precarious assignment in China yesterday with all limbs intact and several reputations enhanced, none more so than Middlesbrough's Nick Barmby who scored twice in a 3-0 victory.

The state of the pitch at the Workers' Stadium in Peking had been the main source of concern for Terry Venables' side, but neither that nor the Chinese national team posed any insurmountable problems. Barmby scored one in each half and Paul Gascoigne added a fine third goal, his first for England since September 1993.

Barmby, recalled to the squad despite not scoring for his club for 14 games, was understandably delighted. "No one has a divine right to be in the squad but hopefully I've put something in the manager's mind for next week," he said.

Venables, who names his 22-man squad for the European Championship finals when the party returns after Sunday's game in Hong Kong, has kept faith with his old Tottenham charge after reassurances from his assistant coach, Middlesbrough's manager Bryan Robson.

"He had a terrific start and then they had a lot of injuries and he has done a lot of odd jobs for him [Robson]," Venables said. "But every time he's come to join us he's looked terrific, which you don't see so much, and I felt it was time he and a few others had a look-in. There's a lot there who now have a case to be in."

The England coach was delighted with his players, including Alan Shearer, now 13 England games without a goal. "I told him, 'I'm bringing you off but you've done well'. You've got to realise it's his first game for a long while. We're rushing him along," Venables said.

Paul Gascoigne, acclaimed by the enthusiastic Chinese crowd when he collected the man of the match award, said: "We had eight young kids out there who showed good determination. They didn't look under any pressure and did very well."

Manchester United full-backs Gary and Phil Neville became the first brothers to play for England together since the Charltons 26 years ago. Older brother Gary said: "It was a proud moment for the family, but it doesn't really matter who plays. It's about preparing for the Championship now and winning games."

Further good news for England was that Arsenal's Tony Adams came through his first competitive test since his cartilage operation in January.