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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 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.

This week Liverpool striker Emile Heskey and Tottenham's Anthony Gardner caught the eye with excellent performances in front of the watching England manager.

Goalkeepers:

David James: Had very little to do on his Manchester City debut except get frostbite and pick the ball out the back of the net as the Citizens drew 1-1 with Blackburn. At least he is playing in the Premiership now.

Paul Robinson: Made an excellent save from Anders Svensson but was left exposed for the majority of the match and eventually Kevin Phillips slotted home through his legs. Not Robinson's best performance.

Ian Walker: His hashed clearence lead to the first Boro goal but he did atone for the blunder with a double stop and a penalty save as the Foxes drew 3-3.

Nigel Martyn: Had very little to do and could nothing about Graham Stuart's goal.

Defenders:

Gary Neville: Rested, and was missed as Manchester United lost 1-0 to Wolves. His England place looks as safe as ever with Glen Johnson and Danny Mills having another poor week.

Sol Campbell: Another scarily efficient performance in the Gunners defence limited Aston Villa to only one real chance in the first half - and only two on target for the whole match.

John Terry: Injured. His absence was notable.

Ashley Cole: Had a little trouble dealing with Juan Pablo Angel but had an effective, if uninspired, match.

Glen Johnson: Forced a save out of Maik Taylor but got booked and was hesitant in defence. Is enduring a tough time after impressing early in his fledgling career.

Danny Mills: Was embarrased by Thierry Henry last week - as many a defender has been - but was given a rough time by Steve Guppy this week. Dissapointing.

Wayne Bridge: An average display. Was beaten by Damien Johnson and did not supply the same attacking threat offered by his Blues rival Celestine Babayaro in recent matches. Will need to do better to overtake Cole in the England team.

Matthew Upson: Injured.

Gareth Southgate: Injured. Boro missed his presence.

Jonathan Woodgate: Playing Monday night.

Anthony Gardner: Called into the last England squad to replace the injured Southgate and must have impressed the watching Eriksson as Tottenham beat Livepool 2-1. Kept Michael Owen very quiet.

Midfielders:

David Beckham: Returned after injury. His misplaced pass lead to Real Betis' goal. Did find his form to test the keeper with a curling 25-yard shot and an excellent pass to set up Zinedine Zidane.

Steven Gerrard: Injured.

Paul Scholes: Headed wide, shot wide and forced a save from Michael Oakes as Manchester United failed to find a decisve edge against Wolves. Below par but still one of the better performers in a poor United display.

Frank Lampard: A ray of hope in an otherwise depressing Chelsea performance. Forced two saves from man of the match Maik Taylor and posed a threat with some exquisite passing. Giving Sven a headache.

Joe Cole: Hit the post with a curling shot in a good first-half performance. Was frustrated by Jeff Kenna in the second-half and lashed out at the defender - reulting in a booking and a substitution.

Nicky Butt: On the bench, but unused after handing in a transfer request. Needs first team football to boost Euro 2004 bid.

Danny Murphy: One of Liverpool's best performers this year but despite his work rate nothing really worked for the midfielder. Must be concerned for his England place.

Scott Parker: Rested/dropped after becoming unsettled by Chelsea's transfer inquiry. His England chances would benefit from playing regularly at the Addicks - who occupy fourth place, behind the Blues.

Kieron Dyer: Playing Monday night.

Jermaine Jenas: Playing Monday night.

Owen Hargreaves: Injured

Phil Neville: Has impressed this season but failed to make an impact on Saturday. Replaced by Diego Forlan as Manchester United pushed forward.

Alan Thompson: Touted for an England call against Portugal in February. Has not featured for Celtic since his stormer under the watchful eye of Tord Grip two weeks ago.

Strikers:

Michael Owen: Played his 200th Premiership game as Eriksson watched from the stands. Failed to score but came close with a 20-yard effort. Still finding his form after a six-week lay-off.

Wayne Rooney: Recalled to the starting eleven by Everton but played wide on the right. Delivered some excellent crosses for Duncan Ferguson but faded as the match went on.

Emile Heskey: Boosted his England chances with a target man performance that would have had the watching Eriksson licking his lips. Set-up Harry Kewell's goal with a knock-down.

Darius Vassell: Injured.

Alan Smith: Returned from suspension to give a committed and tireless Man of the Match performance. Gave the ball away for Saints striker Brett Ormerod to open the scoring but linked well with James Milner.

James Beattie: 'Dog tired and needs a rest', according to manager Gordon Strachan. Southampton's top scorer was benched against Leeds.

  • If you have any thoughts you can email Dominic Raynor.