5 days in the life of; GRAEME LE SAUX

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The Independent Online
Monday: Training didn't begin until 2pm so I read the papers in bed until 9.15. I'm staying at The Burnham Beeches hotel in Buckinghamshire, where the England team prepares for matches. If I make the team, this will be my first game for England for over a year and I feel that I have it all to prove again. In December 1995 I fractured and dislocated my right ankle in a match against Middlesbrough. I've only played 14 games since then, none of them for England.

Since the injury, my preparation for matches and training has altered dramatically. Any opportunity I get to spend time to help my progress, I use. This morning, I have a massage. This afternoon's training session is physically demanding and the prospect of an early night is welcome. The uncertainty of whether or not I'll get a place in the team for Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier against Italy is unsettling.

TUESDAY: After getting my daily ankle massage, I have a support strapping put on and am ready for training. Tomorrow's game is on my mind. The media build-up is massive. If I do play, it will be as wing back, a less familiar position to my usual left back.

The team is announced in the afternoon. I had an idea that I might be in but it was only when my name was read out that I breathed a sigh of relief.

Now I start preparing for tomorrow. It is a massive game. When you know you've been selected you have this emotional rush and want to hurry straight out and play. I spend the rest of the evening trying to relax. My girlfriend, Mariana, lives only half an hour's drive from here, but I can't leave the hotel. It's quite weird, all being locked up like this. They do it to keep us all together.It means that they know what we're doing, what we're eating and drinking and so on.

WEDNESDAY: After working on our set pieces for the match I have a carbohydrate- swamped meal - spaghetti, chicken and vegetables, all in vast quantities. Afterwards, I retire to my room with bananas and water for company. I mix a special carbohydrate drink and go to bed for a while. It is normal for me to sleep for up to an hour and a half before an evening kick-off. After a warm bath, I get dressed. We leave for Wembley at 5.45pm.

There's all this energy surrounding an important game like this and you have to channel it in the right way. I find that playing with a smile on my face, embracing the energy, helps.

Players are very superstitious. They have these routines that mean nothing to anyone else. I have my own, like having a sleep, and I listen to music. I listen to Reef before this match.

We lose, 1-0.

My feelings afterwards are mixed. Personally, having come back from a long injury, I got a lot of positive things out of the game. I was pleased with my sharpness and pace. I was voted Sky man of the match, which was embarrassing but very flattering. Overall though, I was terribly disappointed with the result. We played against a better team on the night.

The atmosphere in the dressing room is subdued. The lads are numb. Everyone had built themselves up. After a match like that you're wasted, exhausted mentally and physically. I think everyone is thinking how much better they could have done.

After a game, we shower together and then go our separate ways. After spending a short time with friends in the players' lounge at Wembley, Mariana and I return to Hertfordshire. I spend half the night replaying the match in my mind.

THURSDAY: Wake at 7am. I can't believe how tired my body and mind is. The prospect of a long drive back to Lancashire is not something I am looking forward to. We get home at lunchtime and the rest of the afternoon is spent catching up with chores. The most exciting thing is washing the Italian shirt I exchanged with Angelo Di Livio in last night's match. I am sure to make a couple of friends jealous with this! By 8pm I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I go to bed.

FRIDAY: Back to training with Blackburn for tomorrow's FA Cup match against Coventry. I feel that all my senses have been enhanced by the week's experiences, having trained with "the best in England" and having played against some of the top players in the world. My career has come full circle, something I am grateful for, now I can once again concentrate on progressing.

Graeme Le Saux plays for Blackburn Rovers and England