Venables tempted by the Anfield short cut

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The Independent Online
Jamie Redknapp could swell Liverpool's resurgence as "Team England" by becoming the seventh of Roy Evans' players capped by Terry Venables if he plays in the friendly against Colombia next Wednesday.

By next summer's European Championship, Anfield could fill no fewer than nine of the 11 England positions.

"Why not? There's a natural understanding between us and it's getting better all the time because we're all young and growing up together," Redknapp said yesterday.

Such is the quality of the new Merseyside generation that Venables is finding it hard to resist the Anfield option. "Considering how little time we have to practice together it's a good idea, a short cut to getting understanding," the England coach said. "Isolated players will always break through, but I see it as a plus; Newcastle are the same - they have players here and others on the edge."

Liverpool's Rob Jones is already established at right-back, one-cap centre- half Neil Ruddock earned the call yesterday to understudy sciatica-sufferer Gary Pallister, while only injury keeps out the new pounds 8m signing Stan Collymore and possibly John Scales. It is surely only a matter of time for the Under- 21 striker, Robbie Fowler, and David James is emerging as a strong goalkeeping contender.

But it is the passing and power of the midfield triumvirate - John Barnes, Steve McManaman and Redknapp - which most appeals, especially in the absence of David Platt and Paul Ince and with fitness doubts over Paul Gascoigne.

"The three of us do well together," Redknapp said, while McManaman added: "The system we play suits us down to the ground at Liverpool."

Evans, of course, employs three centre-backs - a tactic Venables rules out "for the near future". But he sees no problem integrating three midfielders from the same club.

The England coach, who yesterday confirmed Arsenal's Tony Adams as his captain, remained defensive about his refusal to call up Les Ferdinand for Collymore or Paul Ince for Platt while at the same time beckoning Ruddock in for Pallister.

"No one's been pushed out or snubbed. I wanted to continue with the group from the Umbro Cup. I've got a year to go. I would be foolish to rule anyone out," he claimed.

Phil Babb will miss the Republic of Ireland's crucial European Championship game against Austria in Vienna on Wednesday. The Liverpool central defender is ruled out by a knee injury sustained during a pre-season game. Alan Kernaghan, of Manchester City, is the likely replacement.

Dean Saunders will remain in Turkey next week while Wales meet against Moldova in a European Championship qualifier in Cardiff. The former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker, now with Graeme Souness's Galatasaray, was withdrawn from the squad today "on compassionate grounds".

Bobby Gould, the new Wales manager, is allowing Saunders to stay in Istanbul alongside his wife, with the birth of their third child imminent. The absence of Saunders will mean promotion for either Arsenal's John Hartson or Gareth Taylor, of Bristol Rovers.

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