World Cup: Adams rested and raring to go

England's defensive stalwart is in confident mood ahead of tonight's crucial match.
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The Independent Online
BEING FORCED to sit around and watch on all but one of the 13 days that Glenn Hoddle's England squad has so far spent in France might have caused problems beyond the coach's control. But fortunately for Hoddle there has been little evidence of falling out or fighting among the troops, and one or two tales of unexpected resourcefulness.

Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham have occupied their spare time by taking bets on the tournament, while others have amused themselves in interviews by trying to insert as many song titles as possible into their answers.

The undisputed champion is Tony Adams, who managed five in a two and a half minute interrogation. But before England flew to Toulouse yesterday for tonight's Group G encounter with Romania, the defensive linchpin was in slightly more serious mood.

"There are two ways to look at the time we had without a game," Adams said. "It's been a good rest, hasn't it? If our guys had had to play again on Thursday after the heat of Marseilles on Monday, they might not have been ready.

"But the negative side of it is that you're actually away for a long time. It can get a little boring and you just want to get out there and play again. But the win over Tunisia was important for morale."

Adams' own display in that match was just one of many significant influences on the way the England side performed, particularly as the defenders were under pressure to adjust to the new regulations. Adams is not too concerned about that.

"I got worried a couple of days ago when we had the five sendings-off in one day after the memo from Platini went round," Adams said. "And I think it's a good thing. Obviously it encourages forwards to play, which is great, and good defenders can adapt.

"It's a balance, isn't it? You can take it to extremes and encourage diving as well, so we've got to be very careful. But that's out of our control, it's down to the referee."

The attitude of the England side in the opening match was if anything more impressive than the result. Adams, however, was not surprised: "Nobody needed motivating for that game," he said. "The players are all good professionals and we just needed a few pointers in certain directions.

"The fans inside the ground were wonderful. I know there was trouble outside the ground but the atmosphere inside was electric. I was very nervous, but I didn't expect anything else. It was pretty special and I was pleased with my reaction to the nervousness. I think it's important you have a look at how your body's reacting and I was pleased I was able to do my job."

But it was very difficult. The music at the warm-up was incredible and so distracting when you're trying to focus on your game. The whole country wants you to do well, family and friends, but you've got to forget it and get on with your job.

"It can affect people in different ways. If people get nervous they can go into their shell, they can hide. Going back to my debut when I was 17 years old against Sunderland I gave a goal away in the first minute but I was pretty damn pleased with my reaction. I kicked a few people, I made a few tackles and a few headers, we still lost but I was pleased that I didn't give in.

As far as today's opponents are concerned, Adams is under no illusions. "I think they're an excellent side," he said. "And not enough has been said about them. Ilie looks like one of the best players in the tournament. He's actually left-footed but he scored a great goal against Colombia with his right foot. Hagi on his day can cause problems. They've got good wing-backs and defensively they look pretty strong as well.

"But, whether we beat Romania or not, our goal is to quality. We'll be trying to beat Romania so that we can qualify in two games, but we're realistic as well. I'm not saying we'll play for a draw, but they're a very good side, probably the best side in the group that we have to play."

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