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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 27, 2008

England no exhibition match, says USA coach

USA coach Bob Bradley has warned England that his players are treating the friendly at Wembley like a Champions League final and a chance to show how far they have progressed.

Victories against Switzerland, Sweden and Poland this season mean a result against Fabio Capello's men would not be a shock on the scale of the defeats England suffered in 1950 or 1993.

Such is the importance Bradley has put on tomorrow's fixture, Landon Donovan is not an automatic pick for his 100th cap and a decision will be made on the day of the game whether the forward is more effective off the bench.

The message is that England can expect opponents eager to be in the limelight as Manchester United and Chelsea were in Moscow, rather than an end-of-season friendly where minds are elsewhere.

'We've spent an enormous amount of time just talking about the Champions League final - what kind of game that went on, the battles on the field, the individual performances,' Bradley said.

'When you see these types of games you are excited when you have the chance to play on that stage. This is one of those nights.'

Bradley has wanted to test his squad against European opposition and the victories last season came against sides who will all be at the European Championships, while England will be preparing for their next qualifying campaign.

'If you look at the teams we've played in the last 18 months and before that, we have tested ourselves against top teams and have tried to play more in Europe which is important,' Bradley said.

'We treat these games as opportunities to gain respect and we refer to the idea that we play when there are European fixtures and we are part of the card and it is a chance for our players to step up and show where we are. We take them very seriously.

'As a group we understand the process of getting better and if we come away with a victory it is another step forward.'

Goalkeeper Tim Howard feels a win is a possibility and has warned England not to expect and easy ride.

'We step on the field expecting to win, we are not a pushover by any stretch of the imagination,' said the Everton stopper. 'We're going to fight them, and give as good as we get.

'It won't be a situation like we are a deer in the headlights. We won't be awed by the size of the game, we have something to prove as a team and we're up for the challenge.

'It was a surprise to me they (England) didn't qualify. When you set out an England XI it's probably one of the better teams in the world. For them not to qualify was a shock to everybody.

'England lives for football so the fact that there won't be a tournament for them this summer is disappointing. Two of the teams were in the Champions League final and it's a major surprise they didn't qualify but football doesn't wait for anyone.'

Donovan and David Beckham, LA Galaxy team-mates, are likely to be in the spotlight. Beckham got his ton against France earlier in the season, while Donovan reaches his landmark aged just 26.

'They are different personalities but Landon's record speaks for itself,' Bradley said. 'Certainly over the last six to eight years he has been an important figure and we hope there are a lot more days to come.'

Bradley, however, cannot guarantee a start for Donovan, with the forward playing for his club last weekend.

'All of us would see that as a special way of doing it but decisions get made with many things in mind and he is still in the midst of his season, we have other games so we have to do what is best to go forward,' Bradley said.

West Ham full-back Jonathan Spector is not expected to play due to a hip injury.

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