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England squad watch

With Euro 2004 only five months away England's hopefuls are more eager than ever to play their way into manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's final plans.

The national team have only have two scheduled friendlies - against Portugal, February 18, and Sweden, March 31 - remaining for Eriksson to evaluate his players and so club form is imperative in the coming months.

To help our readers keep track of the battle for a place at a major championships Soccernet will provide a weekly run down of how the leading contenders fare each week.


David James: Still Eriksson's No1 despite playing in Division One with West Ham. Saved one-on-one and launched West Ham's goal against the run of play, but still conceded two as the Hammers lost 2-1 to Preston.

Paul Robinson: Could soon be plying his trade in the Nationwide League but the Leeds keeper made a string of saves to deny Tottenham an easy win in the 1-0 defeat at Elland Road.

Ian Walker: Hauled himself back into the England squad but despite a gallant effort couldn't prevent a rampant Chelsea smashing four past him and an absent defence.

Nigel Martyn: Worth a mention after his club manager David Moyes suggested he should be back in the England squad. Made a couple of good saves against Fulham but did not set Loftus Road on fire.


Gary Neville: A clean sheet but got booked and played a suicidal back pass that should have resulted in an Alan Shearer penalty. Still streets ahead of his England rivals however.

Sol Campbell: Played as well as he had to at the weekend. With Rio Ferdinand out he is Eriksson's first choice defender.

John Terry: Favourite to replace Rio Ferdinand in the England squad and increased his chances with a composed display against the Foxes - culminating with a goal-line clearance.

Ashley Cole: Wasn't really tested defensively but was excellent going forward and combined well with Pires down the left. A pity there is no left sided player he can combine with in the England squad.

Glen Johnson: On the periphery. Had a shocker in the 1-0 loss to Liverpool and was replaced by Mario Melchiott against Leicester.

Danny Mills: Paid the penalty of goading Thierry Henry. The Frenchman shrugged off Mill's verbals to slot home a spot-kick and then spent the rest of the game terrorising the hapless defender.

Wayne Bridge: Rested against Leicester.

Matthew Upson: Injured.

Gareth Southgate: The outspoken defender is in and out of the England set-up and an off day against Arsenal will do his chances no good. A poor clearance resulted in Robert Pires' goal.

Jonathan Woodgate: A man-of-the-match performance against Manchester United will have been noted by Eriksson, However the injury prone defender needs to continue his run in the Newcastle defence.


David Beckham: Injured. But Beckham fans would want me to point out that Real Madrid lost in his absence.

Steven Gerrard: Injured.

Paul Scholes: Had an excellent return to action in recent weeks but could only sting the hands of Shay Given with a long-range effort. Probably still an automatic choice for Eriksson despite some disappointing displays for England.

Frank Lampard: Probably been in the form of his life this season and has taken his England chance in Scholes absence. A below par performance against Leicester was marked with some flashes of brilliance.

Joe Cole: Could be the Gazza-esq midfielder England are crying out for if he just new when to play it simple. Carried much of Chelsea's attacking threat against Leicester and turned provider for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's opening goal.

Nicky Butt: Who?

Danny Murphy: Was poor in an average Liverpool display. Passing was off and could be suffering from the general malaise at Liverpool at the moment.

Scott Parker: Winning rave reviews from all quarters at the moment but had an off day against Wolves. Has great ability but seems to be suffering the problems of a reported stomach upset.

Kieron Dyer: Has been playing as a forward off the main striker and is clearly enjoying it. Could not break through the Manchester United defence at the weekend but his versatility could stand him in good stead for England duty.

Jermaine Jenas: Burst into the England fold last season, although more of a hot prospect, he had an excellent game at Old Trafford and was unlucky to see his long-range shot hit the bar.

Owen Hargreaves: Injured

Phil Neville: Keeping Butt, amongst others, out of the United midfield but is unlikely to start for England despite another dependable performance.

Alan Thompson: Touted for an England call against Portugal in February but he did not feature against Ross County following his stormer under the watchful eyes of Tord Grip last weekend.


Michael Owen: Made his return after six-weeks on the sideline and looked rusty. Missed a great chance but that won't worry Eriksson - as long as his first choice striker stays fit.

Wayne Rooney: Excellent for England and has found some form for Everton recently, but started on the bench against Fulham. Replaced Lee Carsley and instantly forced a save for Edwin van der Sar.

Emile Heskey: One of the bright sparks for Liverpool against Aston Villa, and is revelling in the fight to keep his place at Anfield. Didn't get on the score sheet but is still one of Eriksson's usual suspects.

Darius Vassell: Has never really fulfilled his potential at Villa and plays better for England. Is having a bad season and limped off with a hamstring strain.

Alan Smith: Suspended.

James Beattie: Eriksson seems reluctant to pick the Saints striker even when he is in top form. An average display against Birmingham means the striker is now five games without a goal.